Subduction and collision processes between the North China and South China blocks constrained by the geochronology and geochemistry of the Wuguan Complex in the Qinling orogen, China

The Qinling orogen is a key area for understanding the processes of subduction and collision between the South China Block (SCB) and North China Block (NCB). The Wuguan Complex, distributed along the southern margin of the Shangdan suture zone, can provide important constraints on the age of collision between NCB and SCB and the tectonic evolution of the Qinling orogen in Late Paleozoic. Detrital zircons from meta-sedimentary rocks of the Wuguan Complex in the Danfeng-Shangnan area have an age spectrum with two main peaks at ~448 Ma and ~819 Ma, and two subordinate peaks at ~938 and ~1440 Ma, respectively, and are interpreted to have been derived from the North Qinling terrane (NQT). The petrographic and geochemical characteristics of the meta-sedimentary rocks indicate that they were deposited in a fore-arc basin along the southern margin of the NQT. The youngest detrital zircons yield a weighted mean age of 378 ± 3 Ma, indicating that the fore-arc deposition was continuing at least to this time, which implies that the Paleo-Qinling Ocean between the NCB and SCB was not finally closed until at least the late Devonian. In combination with regional data, we propose that sedimentary rocks of the Wuguan Complex might once have been a sequence of late Ordovician to late Devonian strata with intercalated mafic rocks, which has been dismembered by the later tectonic activity. It was metamorphosed during northward subduction of the Paleo-Qinling Ocean at ca. 320 Ma, and slowly cooled through ca. 350°C at ca. 247 Ma (muscovite 40Ar/39Ar age). It has recorded the detailed processes of subduction and collision between the NCB and SCB.