The dynamic mechanism for destruction of the North China Craton (NCC) has been extensively discussed. Numerical simulation is used in this paper to discuss the effect of mantle upward throughflow (MUT) on the lithospheric heat flux of the NCC. Our results yield a three-stage destruction of the NCC lithosphere as a consequence of MUT variation. (1) In Late Paleozoic, the elevation of MUT, which was probably caused by southward and northward subduction of the paleo-Asian and paleo-Tethyan oceans, respectively, became a prelude to the NCC destruction. The geological consequences include a limited decrease of the lithospheric thickness, an increase of heat flux, and a gradual enhancement of the crustal activity. But the tectonic attribute of the NCC maintained a stable craton. (2) During Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous, the initial velocity of the MUT became much faster probably in response to subduction of the Pacific Ocean; the conductive heat flux at the base of the NCC lithosphere gradually increased from west to east; and the lithospheric thickness was significantly decreased. During this stage, the heat flux distribution was characterized by zonation and partition, with nearly horizontal layering in the lithosphere and vertical layering in the underlying asthenosphere. Continuous destruction of the NCC lithosphere was associated with the intense tectono-magmatic activity. (3) From Late Cretaceous to Paleogene, the velocity of MUT became slower due to the retreat of the subducting Pacific slab; the conductive heat flux at the base of lithosphere was increased from west to east; the distribution of heat flux was no longer layered. The crust of the western NCC is relatively hotter than the mantle, so-called as a ‘hot crust but cold mantle’ structure. At the eastern NCC, the crust and the mantle characterized by a ‘cold crust but hot mantle.’ The western NCC (e.g., the Ordos Basin) had a tectonically stable crust with low thermal gradients in the lithosphere; whereas the eastern NCC was active with a hot lithosphere. The numerical results show that the MUT is the main driving force for the NCC destruction, whereas the complex interaction of surrounding plates lit a fuse for the lithospheric thinning.
International Journal of Earth Sciences – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 7, 2017
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