The continental crust is commonly viewed as being formed in subduction zones, but there is no consensus on the relative roles of oceanic or continental arcs in the formation of the continental crust. The main difficulties of the oceanic arc model are how the oceanic arcs can be preserved from being subducted, how we can trace the former oceanic arcs through their high-Si products, and how the oceanic arcs can generate the high-Si, K-rich granitoid composition similar to the upper continental crust. The eastern Qinling orogen provides an optimal place to address these issues as it preserves the well-exposed Erlangping oceanic arc with large amounts of granitoids. In this study, we present an integrated investigation of zircon U–Pb ages and Hf–O isotopes for four representative granitoid plutons in the Erlangping unit. In situ zircon SIMS U–Pb dating indicated that the Zhangjiadazhuang, Xizhuanghe, and Taoyuan plutons formed at 472±7, 458±6 and 443±5Ma, respectively, all of which postdated the deep subduction of the Qinling microcontinent under the Erlangping oceanic arc. The Zhangjiadazhuang, Xizhuanghe, and Taoyuan plutons are sodic granitoid and have highly positive εHf(t) (+7.6 to +12.9) and relatively low δ18O (4.7–5.0‰) values, which were suggested to result from prompt remelting of hydrothermally altered lower oceanic crust of the accreted Erlangping oceanic arc. The zircon grains from the Manziying monzogranitic pluton show similar Hf–O isotopic compositions to those of the Xizhuanghe pluton, and thus the Manziying monzogranitic pluton was likely derived from the dehydration melting of previous tonalites as exemplified by the Xizhuanghe pluton. The deep subduction of Qinling microcontinent resulted in the accretion of the Erlangping oceanic arc, which implies that arc–continent collision provides an effective way for preventing oceanic arcs from being completely subducted. The highly positive εHf(t) and relatively low δ18O values of zircon grains from the granitoids in the Erlangping unit reveal that the continental crust can acquire its high-Si, K-rich nature from accreted oceanic arcs through differentiation by post-accretional magmatism, and thus highlight the significance of oceanic arcs for the generation of continental crust.
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2016
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