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Nature and secular evolution of the lithospheric mantle beneath the North China Craton

Abstract

The Archean mantle lithosphere beneath the North China Craton (NCC) was transformed in the Mesozoic, leading to the craton destruction. Despite the significant breakthroughs in the craton studies, lithospheric transformation mechanisms are yet to be fully understood. Compositional variations of mantle-derived rocks and xenoliths provide insights into the nature of the mantle lithosphere before and after the craton destruction. The Paleozoic lithosphere of the NCC is ∼200 km thick. It has a refractory mantle with an evolved isotopic signature. The Mesozoic mantle lithosphere was relatively fertile and highly heterogeneous. In the Cenozoic, the lithosphere in the eastern NCC is about 60–80 km thick. It has an oceanic-type mantle that is fertile in composition and depleted in the Sr-Nd isotopic signature. The Central Zone lithosphere is >100 km thick and has a double-layer mantle with an old upper layer and a new lower layer. The Western Block has a lithosphere of ∼200 km thick. The lithospheric mantle beneath the southern and northern margins and eastern part of the NCC has been transformed significantly by peridotite-melt reactions due to the multiple subductions of adjacent plates since the Paleozoic. Paleo-Pacific subduction and the associated dynamic processes significantly alter the lithosphere based on the distribution of craton destruction. The involved mechanisms include mechanical intrusion of subduction plates, melt fluid erosion, and local delamination. The lithospheric thinning of ∼120 km is relevant to the continental extension caused by subduction plate rollback and trench retreat.

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Acknowledgements

We sincerely appreciate the constructive and beneficial suggestions from Prof. Yongfei Zheng, Editorial Board members, and two anonymous reviewers. This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFC0600109) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41725014 & 41688103).

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Correspondence to Yanjie Tang.

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Tang, Y., Ying, J., Zhao, Y. et al. Nature and secular evolution of the lithospheric mantle beneath the North China Craton. Sci. China Earth Sci. 64, 1492–1503 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-020-9737-4

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Keywords

  • Mantle xenoliths
  • Lithospheric mantle transformation
  • Circum-craton subductions
  • Peridotite-melt reaction
  • North China Craton
  • Paleo-Pacific plate