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Ancient deformation of the lithosphere revealed in Eastern China

Geological Society of America


IMAGE: This is a color-shaded relief map with simplified tectonic units of eastern Asia. Since the Late Cretaceous, lithosphere extension was induced by the subduction of the western Pacific or Philippine... view more

Credit: Tian and Santosh, GSA Today Feb. 2015.

Boulder, Colorado, USA - Seismic investigations from the Qinling-Dabie-Sulu orogenic belt in eastern China suggest that this region was affected by extreme mantle perturbation and crust-mantle interaction during the Mesozoic era. The Qinling-Dabie-Sulu orogenic belt formed through the collision between the North and South China blocks, which produced large-scale destruction of the cratonic lithosphere, accompanied by widespread magmatism and metallogeny.

Global mantle convection significantly impacts processes at the surface of the Earth and can be used to gain insights on plate driving forces, lithospheric deformation, and the thermal and compositional structure of the mantle. Upper-mantle seismic anisotropy is widely employed to study both present and past deformation processes at lithospheric and asthenospheric depths.

The majority of seismic data from stations located near Qinling-Dabie-Sulu orogenic belt show anisotropy with an E-W- or ENE-WSW-trending fast polarization direction, parallel to the southern edge of the North China block. This suggests compressional deformation in the lithosphere due to the collision between the North and South China blocks. Although the deep root of the craton was largely destroyed by cratonic reactivation in the late Mesozoic, these results suggest that the "fossilized" anisotropic signature is still preserved in the remnant lithosphere beneath eastern China.



Fossilized lithospheric deformation revealed by teleseismic shear wave splitting in eastern China

Xiaobo Tian, State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China; and M. Santosh, School of Earth Sciences and Resources, China University of Geosciences, 29 Xueyuan Road, Beijing 100083, China. Pages 4-10; doi: 10.1130/GSATG220A.1.

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Contact: Kea Giles

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