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Detrital zircon provenance comparison between the Paleocene-Eocene Nangqian-Xialaxiu and Gongjue basins: New insights for Cenozoic paleogeographic evolution of the eastern Tibetan Plateau

Zhang, Yang, Huang, Wentao, Zhang, Yuanyuan, Poujol, Marc, Guillot, Stéphane, Roperch, Pierrick, Dupont-Nivet, Guillaume, Guo, Zhaojie
Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology 2019 v.533 pp. 109241
Eocene epoch, Oligocene epoch, Paleocene epoch, altitude, basins, mountains, provenance, sandstone, sediments, zircon, China
Paleogeographic reconstructions of terranes can greatly benefit from the provenance analysis of sediments. A series of Cenozoic basins provide key sedimentary archives for investigating the growth of the Tibetan Plateau, yet the provenance of the sediments in these basins has never been constrained robustly. Here we report sedimentary petrological and detrital zircon geochronological data from the Paleocene-Eocene Nangqian-Xialaxiu and Gongjue basins. Sandstone detrital modes and zircon morphology suggest that the samples collected in these two basins were sourced from recycled orogen. Detrital zircon geochronology indicates that sediments in the Nangqian-Xialaxiu Basin are characterized by two distinct age populations at 220–280 Ma and 405–445 Ma. In contrast, three predominant age populations of 207–256 Ma, 423–445 Ma, and 1851–1868 Ma, and two subordinate age populations of ~50 Ma and ~2500 Ma, are recognized in the Gongjue Basin. Comparison with detrital zircon ages from the surrounding terranes suggests that sediments in the Nangqian-Xialaxiu Basin come from the neighboring thrust belts, whereas sediments from the Gongjue Basin are predominantly derived from the distant Songpan-Ganzi Terrane with minor contribution from the surrounding areas. A three-stage Cenozoic evolution of the eastern Tibetan Plateau is proposed. During the Paleocene, the Nangqian-Xialaxiu Basin appeared as a set of small intermontane sub-basins and received plentiful sediments from the neighboring mountain belts; during the Eocene, the Gongjue Basin kept a relatively low altitude and was a depression at the edge of a proto-Plateau; since the Oligocene, the Tibetan Plateau further uplifted and the marginal Gongjue Basin was involved in the Tibetan interior orogeny, indicating the eastward propagation of the Tibetan Plateau.