Plate tectonics of Asia: Geological and geophysical constraints
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ABSTRACT: A paleomagnetic study has been carried out on the Early Cretaceous Zenong Group volcanic rocks (ca. 110–130Ma) near Cuoqin town in the central Lhasa terrane. Stepwise thermal demagnetization up to 680°C isolated a stable high-temperature component (HTC) including antipodal dual polarities. The HTC directions passed both a fold test at 99% confidence and a reversal test at 95% confidence, suggesting a primary origin. The tilt-corrected average direction for 18 sites is D=327.0°, I=35.7°, κ=59.3°, α95=4.5°, which corresponds to a paleopole at 58.2° N, 341.9° E (A95=4.6°), yielding a paleolatitude of 19.8°±4.6° N for the study area. Our results, combined with previous paleomagnetic data, suggest that southern Tibet was at a mean paleolatitude of 20° N during the Cretaceous and Paleogene. When compared with the apparent polar wander paths of Asia, the difference suggests that only ca. 870km north–south crustal shortening has accumulated between the Lhasa terrane and stable Asia since ca. 110Ma. When comparing the paleolatitudes of the Lhasa terrane and India, the results indicate that the width of the Neotethys was 6720±690km during the Early Cretaceous.Gondwana Research - GONDWANA RES. 09/2012;
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ABSTRACT: A clarification/correction to the Results section of the palynological analysis pertaining to pollen grouped as “cf. Meliaceoidites-Rhoipites.”01/2009;
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ABSTRACT: Sundaland comprises a heterogeneous collage of continental blocks derived from the India–Australian margin of eastern Gondwana and assembled by the closure of multiple Tethyan and back-arc ocean basins now represented by suture zones. The continental core of Sundaland comprises a western Sibumasu block and an eastern Indochina–East Malaya block with an island arc terrane, the Sukhothai Island Arc System, comprising the Linchang, Sukhothai and Chanthaburi blocks sandwiched between. This island arc formed on the margin of Indochina–East Malaya, and then separated by back-arc spreading in the Permian. The Jinghong, Nan–Uttaradit and Sra Kaeo Sutures represent this closed back-arc basin. The Palaeo-Tethys is represented to the west by the Changning–Menglian, Chiang Mai/Inthanon and Bentong–Raub Suture Zones. The West Sumatra block, and possibly the West Burma block, rifted and separated from Gondwana, along with Indochina and East Malaya in the Devonian and were accreted to the Sundaland core in the Triassic. West Burma is now considered to be probably Cathaysian in nature and similar to West Sumatra, from which it was separated by opening of the Andaman Sea basin. South West Borneo and/or East Java-West Sulawesi are now tentatively identified as the missing “Argoland” which must have separated from NW Australia in the Jurassic and these were accreted to SE Sundaland in the Cretaceous. Revised palaeogeographic reconstructions illustrating the tectonic and palaeogeographic evolution of Sundaland and adjacent regions are presented.Gondwana Research - GONDWANA RES. 01/2011; 19(1):3-21.
Plate tectonics of Asia: Geological and geophysical constraints
1. Background to the issue and an overview of the papers
Asia is a natural laboratory for continental accretion and intracon-
tinental deformation that continues to challenge earth scientists
today (e.g., McElhinny, 1973; Zonenshain et al., 1991; Sengör et al.,
1993; Sengör and Natal'in, 1996; Zorin, 1999). As depicted in Fig. 1,
it is dominated by the large continental blocks of Siberia, North
China, South China, Tarim and India and by composite regions of
smaller blocks and accreted terranes comprising Tibet, Mongolia,
Kazakhstan, and the Central Asian Orogenic Belt. Most of present-day
China and parts of Mongolia were probably derived from the Paleozoic
supercontinent Gondwana, as of course was India (e.g., Burret et al.,
1990; Metcalfe, 2011). The assembly of Asia from these large and
small pieces has a long Phanerozoic history that includes the accretion
of island arcs and continental fragments in central Asia (Berzin et al.,
1994; Berzin and Kungurtsev, 1996; Zorin, 1999); the closure of the
Mongol–Okhotsk Ocean and formation of the orogenic belt of the
amalgamation of the Mongolia–North China Block (Klimetz, 1983;
McElhinny and McFadden, 1990; Zhao et al., 1990; Ziegler et al.,
1996); and the accretion of South China, the Tibetan and SE Asian ter-
ranes, and finally India (e.g., Argand, 1924; Yang et al., 1986; Wang et
al., 2008; Lippert et al., 2011). Indeed, the story continues today with
India's indentation into Tibet (Molnar and Tapponier, 1975), Australia's
northward motion toward Asia (Audley-Charles et al., 1988; White,
1995), and North America's northwesterly movement toward Asia
(Van der Voo et al., 1999).
The consequences of tectonic activity in Asia, especially the north-
and affected climate. Many examples of tectonic, magmatic and sedi-
mentary processes and related economic mineral deposits of the region
have already been extensively studied by earth scientists from around
the world, but our knowledge of the kinematics and duration of colli-
sional events between the Asian blocks is still inadequate (Hankard et
al., 2007; Lippert et al., 2011). Large questions remain as to the timing
and mode of accretion of the Asian blocks and Tibetan terranes. More-
rane in terms of style and mechanism of tectonic deformation and how
they developed through time. It has also been heatedly debated wheth-
er the Central Asian Orogenic Belt was constructed by syn-subduction
oroclinal bending of a single, long-lasting, subduction system (Sengör
et al., 1993; Sengör and Natal'in, 1996), or by several subduction sys-
tems with different polarities and by the collision of micro-continents
(Coleman, 1989; Mossakovsky et al., 1994; Xiao et al., 2008), and
whether the Korean Peninsula has tectonic affinity with North or
South China (Zhao et al., 1999). Recent work has also shown that SE
Asia is an unusual region whose tectonic development cannot be
explainedinsimpleplatetectonic terms.Assuch,numerous fundamen-
tal problems still need to be addressed.
This special issue of Gondwana Research comprising 19 papers
written by active researchers in their various scientific fields, con-
cerns such first-order tectonic questions. The papers in this special
issue reflect the many facades of plate tectonics and provide new in-
sights into a variety of geological, geophysical and geodynamical
problems of Asia. The style of the contributions also varies from re-
view paper to speculative accounts of geologic processes. Because of
their diversity, these papers will appeal to a wide range of earth scien-
tists interested in these topics and approaches in Asia and in analogous
areas in other parts of the world.
The special issue is divided into 4 sections: (1) Tectonic and uplift
history of the Tibetan Plateau; (2) The coherent and tectonic history
of the North and South China and Korea; (3); Growth history of the
Central Asian Orogenic Belt; and (4) Tectono-magmatic history of
SE Asia. There is considerable linkage between these sections. Indeed,
many papers could appear in more than one section. A number of pa-
pers in this issue are an outgrowth of Session SE07 at the Asia Oceania
Geologic Society 2010 Annual Meeting (5–9 July, 2010) in Hyderabad,
India, titled “Plate tectonics of Asia: geological and geophysical
2. Tectonics and uplift history of the Tibetan Plateau
The collision between India and Asia has forcefully raised the Ti-
betan plateau (Argand, 1924; Molnar and Tapponier, 1975), which
is undoubtedly the most extensive region of elevated topography
and thick crust on the Earth's surface, and also deformed large parts
of central and eastern Asia. Tectonically, Tibetan Plateau is a collage
of continental blocks (terranes) that were added successively to the
Eurasian plate during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras (Burg and
Chen, 1984). From north to south, the Tibetan crustal blocks are the
Kunlun, Songpan-Ganze, Qiangtang, Lhasa, and Himalayan terranes,
the latter being actually part of the Indian subcontinent. All these ter-
ranes are characterized by fold and thrust belts that are spatially asso-
ciated with Tertiary foreland basin development (Yin and Harrison,
2000). Comparative studies of the tectono-stratigraphy, paleontology,
and structural geology of the various terranes suggest that they were
all derived directly or indirectly from Gondwanaland (Chang et al.,
1986; Audley-Charles et al., 1988; Nie et al., 1990; Metcalfe, 2006)
and collided with Eurasia at times progressively younging southward
(Chang and Cheng, 1973; Searle et al., 1987, 1997; Dewey et al., 1988;
Rowley, 1996; Sengör and Natal'in, 1996; Murphy et al., 1997; Yin
and Harrison, 2000; Tapponnier et al., 2001; Davis et al., 2002;
Aitchinson et al., 2007; Dupont-Nivet et al., 2008; Lippert et al.,
Gondwana Research 22 (2012) 353–359
1342-937X/$ – see front matter © 2012 International Association for Gondwana Research. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/gr
2011), although the precise age of suturing and subsequent reactiva-
tion by other collision are still debated.
Nine papers in this section focus on magmatic, structural, geochem-
ical, isotopic, petrological, and paleomagnetic features of various Tibet-
an terranes. Guo and Wilson (2012) described new geochemical and
Sr–Nd isotope data for six leucogranite bodies from the Himalayas.
These Late Oligocene–Miocene leucogranites form part of an extensive
intrusive igneous province within the Himalayan orogen in southern
Tibet. Based on Sr–Nd isotope and trace element data, they propose
that northward underthrusting of the Indian continent resulted in the
release of a Lesser Himalayan-derived dehydration fluid that metaso-
matised the overlying Higher Himalayan gneisses, forming low
melting-point enriched domains in the Higher Himalayan crustal
source region. Lithospheric extension in Late Oligocene–Miocene
times (26–9 Ma) resulted in decompression melting of these metaso-
matised domains, generating the Late Oligocene–Miocene Himalayan
leucogranites; this extension is linked to steepening of the subducted
The Yarlung Zangbo Suture Zone is the youngest and the south-
ernmost of all sutures stretching across the Tibetan Plateau and con-
tains the remnants of the Neo-Tethys ocean that once separated India
from the Lhasa block. To amplify our current understanding of the
India–Eurasian suturing history as recorded in this 2500 km long
ophiolitic belt between the Himalayan and Tibetan terranes, Hébert
et al. (2012) made the first synthesis of regrouping petrological, geo-
chemical, and geochronological data on ophiolites of the Indus–Yar-
lung Zangbo Suture Zone. They suggest that in this suture zone,
177–150 Ma ophiolites are formed in a nascient arc in the eastern
and western parts of the suture zone, and 130–88 Ma ophiolites com-
prising parts of older ones are generated in the entire subduction
zone. The Andean-type subduction was initiated under Lhasa block
and major shrinking of the arc and obduction of ophiolites proceeds
with related retrograde metamorphism. Final closing of the Neo-
Tethys basin by 55–50 Ma with last marine sediments dated 34 Ma.
Guilmette et al. (2012) focused on the Saga ophiolitic mélange
that crops out along the Yarlung Zangbo Suture Zone. Thermobaro-
ophiolitic mélange were metamorphosed to peak conditions in excess
of 12 kbar and 850 °C between 132 and 127 Ma. This data supports a
model in which the back-arc ophiolites (central segment) in the Yar-
lung Zangbo Suture Zone were trapped in a fore-arc setting by the in-
ception of a subduction at the back-inter-arc ridge. The cause of this
important Early Cretaceous tectonic event might be the presence of
an oceanic plateau or hot-spot tracks in the Neo-Tethys and/or the
collision of the Lhasa and Qiangtang blocks.
Wang et al. (2012) carried out new geological investigations of the
Cretaceous–Paleogene sedimentary strata in southern Tibet. Based on
the revised stratigraphic framework, reinterpretation of lithofacies
architecture, provenance, and basin basement, they concluded that
the basement of the Xigaze forearc basin in south Tibet is made of
the Xigaze ophiolite, and completed before the Aptian. ThefirstXigaze
forearc basin deposits are of the earliest Aptian age (ca. 125–120 Ma),
related to the residual fore arc. Composite forearc was developed after-
wards, represented by flysch megasequences that have late Albian–late
Cenomanian and the Turonian–Coniacian ages, respectively. The final
arc stage represented by the late Late Cretaceous–Early Paleogene shal-
low marine deposits and completed during middle Ypresian (between
55.8±0.2 and 48.6±0.2 Ma).
Tibet is remarkable not only for its size (3×106km2), but also for
its height and flatness: 82% of the world's land surface above 4000 m
is in Tibet, and excluding the steep margins of the plateau, there is
very little relief within it (Fielding et al., 1994). How such topography
and uniform relief has developed through geologic time is a long-
standing question in geology. Previous studies including numerical
modeling and structural geology have documented that crustal short-
ening in the Lhasa and Qiangtang blocks occurred prior to India–Asia
collision (England and Houseman, 1988; Kapp et al., 2007). These
40Ar/39Ar dating on hornblende indicate that the Saga
Fig. 1. A color-shaded relief map with simplified tectonic units of Asia and surrounding regions (modified from Fu et al., 2011). Red arrows represent GPS data showing relative plate
motions with respect to Eurasia plate. Abbreviations: JB: Junggar Basin, QB: Qaidam Basin, SB: Sichuan Basin, TB: Tarim Basin.
observations imply that the central Tibetan Plateau might have already
elevated during Cretaceous and early Cenozoic. Based on studies from
the eastern Hoh Xil basin, Wang et al. (2008) proposed that uplift of
the Tibetan Plateau was progressive, and the central Tibetan Plateau
(the Qiangtang and Lhasa blocks) was elevated by 40 Ma ago. Dai et
al. (2012) provided new results from sedimentology, detrital zircon
U–Pb and Lu–Hf isotopic compositions, and paleomagnetic signatures
from both the eastern and western Hoh Xil basins of north-central Ti-
betan Plateau. The results indicate that the existence of a single,
wide Hoh Xil basin during Paleogene as response to uplift and erosion
of the proto-Tibetan Plateau (today's Qiangtang and Lhasa blocks). Such
contributed to the global cooling during the early Eocene.
Central Qiangtang is an important area for understanding the early
geological evolution of the Tibetan plateau due to its largely exposed
metamorphic complex (Kapp et al., 2003). Liang et al. (2012) focused
on the geochronology, structural style, deformation and metamorphic
sequence of the Qomo Ri accretionary complex in Central Qiangtang.
were identified within the Qomo Ri metamorphic complex, and two re-
liable40Ar/39Ar plateau ages of 219.1±1.4 Ma and 211.9±1.2 Ma were
obtained from phengite quartz samples of the complex. These new re-
sults lead Liang et al. (2012) to propose a new model, which suggests
that the complex was most likely produced by a Late Triassic subduction
of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean. The metamorphic complexes in Central
Qiangtang are typical accretionary complexes that constitute a large-
scale Indosinian accretionary orogen.
With an average elevation of 5800 m, and extending more than
350 km in a NW–SE direction, the Tanggula Range is the largest
mountain belt in central Tibet, which lies along the northern edge
of the Qiangtang terrane. Li et al. (2012) conducted field mapping to
unravel the spatial and temporal evolution of the deformation and
uplift of the Tanggula Range and sedimentation of the near by Tuo-
tuohe Basin. They show that deformation styles can be classified as
high angle imbricate thrust, fold thrust and lower-angle imbricate
thrust, respectively. The initiation of sedimentation in the Tuotuohe
Basin and stratigraphic unconformities indicate that the thrust sys-
tem was developed during 52–23 Ma. Sequential filling patterns, sed-
imentary facies and paleocurrents indicate that the Tuotuohe Basin
was a foreland basin. Restored structural sections suggest 89 km
(60%) of N–S shortening in the Tanggula Range and 96 km (48%)
shortening in the Tuotuohe Basin.
Paleomagnetic investigation provides most of the key information
for quantifying the motions of blocks. Two articles address the dis-
placement history of the Lhasa terrane using paleomagnetism. Ran
et al. (2012) provided paleomagnetic data of Permian rocks from
Lhasa terrane. The new Permian paleomagnetic pole is not consistent
with the coeval poles for Australia and India, but the Carboniferous
pole in the Lhasa Terrane overlaps with the Australian poles from
300 to 350 Ma, suggesting that the Lhasa Terrane had rifted from
the northern margin of Australia after the Carboniferous. Chen et al.
(2012) carried out a paleomagnetic study on the Early Cretaceous
Zenong Group volcanic rocks (ca. 110–130 Ma) in the central Lhasa
terrane. Their results, combined with previous paleomagnetic data,
suggest that southern Tibet was at a mean paleolatitude of 20° N dur-
ing the Cretaceous and Paleogene. When compared with the apparent
polar wander paths of Asia (Besse and Courtillot, 2002), the paleolati-
tude difference suggests that only ca. 870 km north–south crustal
shortening has accumulated between the Lhasa terrane and stable
Asia since ca. 110 Ma.
3. The coherent and tectonic history of the North and South China
China, which covers 9.6 million square kilometers (6.5% of the
Earth's land surface) in eastern Asia, is complex and interesting
from both tectonic and paleogeographic standpoints. In its simplest
form, China consists of three large Precambrian continental cratons,
namely, the Tarim, North and South China Blocks, separated by Paleo-
zoic and Mesozoic accretionary belts, as well as several smaller blocks
or terranes (Tibet, Junggar and Qaidam basins, see Fig. 1). Several
studies favor the hypothesis that these continental blocks and ter-
ranes were derived from Gondwanaland (Wang et al., 1999). A
close biogeographic association of South China with Australia has
been recognized for both the Cambrian and Devonian, suggesting
that South China may have been part of Gondwanaland in Early and
Middle Paleozoic time (Burrett and Richardson, 1980; Long and
Burrett, 1989). Some paleontological data from Tarim show that Cam-
brian and Ordovician Bradoriida fossils are very similar to those of
South China, which in turn would suggest that Tarim was also part
of Gondwanaland in the Early Paleozoic (McKerrow and Scotese,
1990; Shu and Chen, 1991). Whether or not North China also
belonged to Gondwanaland during this same period is less clear.
Early Cambrian fauna from North China show affinity with Australia,
but Ordovician benthic trilobite assemblages in North China show
more similarity with those of Siberia and North America (Burrett et
Eastern China is one of the key regions for understanding tectonic
process including collision, accretion, post-collisional exhumation
and rotation, and interactions of tectonic, sedimentary, and magmatic
processes (Wan, 2011). Three papers have addressed various aspects
of accretional history and metallogenic features of blocks in eastern
China. Chang and Zhao (2012) synthesized current geologic and pa-
leomagnetic knowledge of North and South China Blocks and Korea.
They propose a new crustal detachment and extrusion model for
the continental collision and rotation process of the two blocks at
their east end, and emphasize that the Yellow Sea Transform Fault
played a key role in accommodating the collisional history of the
two blocks in the east end. A general time correlation of the Songnim
orogeny of Korea and the early exhumation of the Sulu UHP meta-
morphic belt suggests their genetic relation. Geologic and paleomag-
netic information synthesized in this paper has also revived and
reinforced the belief for the single Sino-Korean Craton which com-
prises Korea and the north China since the Precambrian time.
The age and composition of the basement rocks underlying the
Mesozoic volcanic rocks in southeastern China have been long debat-
ed. Hu et al. (2012) described their field investigation, stratigraphical
and sedimentological studies of the Fuding inlier in eastern Cathay-
sian block. Three stratigraphic units are present in the Fuding inlier.
Provenance data indicate that the Fuding inlier was part of the
Wuyishan terrane in the eastern Cathaysian block. The U–Pb age
and Hf isotope of detrital zircons indicate that extensive magmatic ac-
tivity happened during 280–360 Ma in the source area. The εHf values
of detrital zircons point to magmatic mixing of juvenile material and
Precambrian crust. The similarities in rock compositions and detrital
zircon ages among the Yeongnam massif in the Korean Peninsula,
the Tananao complex in Taiwan and the Fuding inlier have led the au-
thors to conclude that these three regions most likely belonged to the
Wuyishan terrane, eastern Cathaysia during the late Paleozoic age.
The South China affinity for Korea Peninsula is contradictory to
what Chang and Zhao (2012) concluded above.
A topic of active research is metallogenic and tectonic analysis,
which can greatly improve knowledge of regional geology and inter-
pretations of tectonic activities. The Wuyishan metallogenic belt of
southeast China is part of the circum-Pacific tectono-magmatic belt,
and is one of the 19 key metallogenic belts in China because of its
abundant mineral resources and vast prospecting potential. Specifi-
cally, the North Wuyi area is an important Cu–Pb–Zn polymetal ore-
concentrated district in East China. Yu et al. (2012) reported new geo-
chronological data from the Paleozoic and Mesozoic Nappe structures
and associated igneous rocks of North Wuyi Area. The regional distri-
bution and structural styles of the thrust faults in the North Wuyi area
and new40Ar–39Ar dating results (415–390 Ma) confirm that inten-
sive tectonic activity during the Early Paleozoic, when the South
China Block was about to separate from Gondwana. This tectonic ac-
tivity also wiped out evidence of Caledonian mineralization. Nappe
structures with regional scales (several thousand meters) were formed
during the Early Cretaceous period, with40Ar–39Ar age of 120–129 Ma.
4. Growth history and metallogenesis of the Central Asian Orogen-
ic belt (CAOB)
The presence of the central Asian foldbelt in the Paleozoic to
Early–Middle Mesozoic has long been known to the Chinese, Russian,
and western geologists (e.g., Li and Wang, 1983; Yang et al., 1986;
Zonenshain et al., 1990; Dobretsov et al., 1995; Sengör and Natal'in,
1996; Zorin, 1999; Buslov et al., 2004; Buslov, 2011). Various names
have been referred to it, such as the Altaids (Sengör et al., 1993), Cen-
tral Asian fold belt or Central Asian belt (Zonenshain et al., 1990),
Central Asian Orogenic belt (Jahn, 2004), the name we shall adopt
in this special issue. The Central Asian Orogenic belt has figured
prominently in a number of attempts to reconstruct the paleogeo-
graphic evolution of this part of Asia. Buslov et al. (2004) summarized
the geologic research results of Russian geologists who felt that the
Central Asian belt is composed of a series of Gondwana-derived
small blocks or tectonostratigraphic terranes, including eastern
Kazakhstan and Junggar. They suggested that the collision of the
Altai–Mongolia–Tuva composite microcontinent with Siberia took
place during the Late Devonian–Early Carboniferous and the collision
of East Europe and Kazakhstan with Siberia occurred in the Late
Carboniferous–Permian (Buslov et al., 2004). Well-exposed ophiolitic,
ultramafic, volcanic, and metamorphic rocks, along with melanges
and flysch sediments found in the Tianshan range led Xiao et al.
(2004) to envision a complex process of amalgamation of these
terranes with each other and with Siberian Craton to the north, main-
ly during the Paleozoic and involving several subduction systems
with different polarities.
Five articles in this section discussed the growth history and
metallogenesis of blocks within the CAOB. Mao et al. (2012) reported
newly-defined Nb-enriched basalts, adakites and dacites from the
Beishan area of NW China, southern part of the CAOB. They concluded
that subducted oceanic slab-melting was frequent in this region from
470 to 370 Ma, and the frequent oceanic crustal subduction and slab-
melting were important mechanisms in the accretionary growth of
the southern CAOB.
Two notable geological features exist in the Chinese Altai and ad-
jacent area of the central CAOB: (1) huge volume Paleozoic granitoids
and (2) a widespread Early Paleozoic flysch sequence (Jahn et al.,
2000; Yuan et al., 2007; Wang et al., 2009). Great progresses in geo-
chemistry have been achieved for the granitoids that were considered
to form in an arc-related environment with significant involvement of
juvenile materials (Yuan et al., 2007), but only a few results are avail-
able for the flysch sequence (Chen and Jahn, 2002). Long et al. (2012)
carried a geochemical and Nd isotopic study on this flysch sequence.
They found that the sedimentary rocks from the flysch sequence
have high MgO, Sc, Co and low Y, Nb, and thus suggest thatsignificant
mafic rocks were added into their source. Together with the age and
suggest a northward-derived mafic source for the sedimentary
The Junggar basin of NW China sits in a complicated region
squeezed between the Tarim Basin on the south; the Kazakhstan
block on the west, and Siberia to the northeast (JB in Fig. 1). It has
been referred to be part of CAOB during the Devonian and Carbonifer-
ous and part of the Siberian platform/Kazakhstan block during the
collision between the Angara and the Tarim blocks in late Carbonifer-
ous. One key tectonic question is that whether the Junggar Basin was
part of the Kazakhstan block since early Paleozoic, or did it form
during late Paleozoic–Mesozoic time by accretion of terranes. To
this end, Yang et al. (2012) reported the geochemistry and zircon
U–Pb ages of Carboniferous sedimentary rocks that were recovered
from boreholes in the Junggar Basin. The new zircon U–Pb ages and
sedimentary geochemical data suggest a continental island arc to ac-
tive continental margin setting for Junggar, with a dominantly felsic
to intermediate source of late Carboniferous age. The results from
this study suggest that a volcanic arc accretion or archipelago (early
Carboniferous to early–middle Devonian) model for the East Junggar
Basin is more viable than the previous tectonic models of a Precam-
brian continental margin in the early Paleozoic.
The largest metallogenetic province in Central Asia was generated
during the complex evolution of the CAOB (Xiao and Kusky, 2009).
Zhang et al. (2012) presented geochronological and geochemical data
for granitoid rocks associated with the Zhibo iron ore deposit of NW
China. The data suggest a submarine, syngenetic volcanogenic mineral-
ization age of ca. 320 Ma for the Zhibo iron ore deposit. The Zhibo and
other submarine volcanogenic iron ore deposits of the CAOB are in-
ferred to have formed in a continental arc-setting related to subduction
tectonics. Liu et al. (2012) conducted laser40Ar/39Ar dating on skarn
grunerites of the Sawusi Pb–Zn deposit from the southern Chinese
error, to the SIMS zircon U–Pb age (401±2.7 Ma) of rhyolite of the
and that (401±3.1 Ma) of the Biesisala porphyrite in Sawusi deposit.
The Sawusi Pb–Zn deposit was shown to be of volcanic exhala-
tion–sedimentation in origin.
5. Tectono-magmatic history of SE Asia
As a part of the eastern Tethyan orogenic belt, the Southeast Asian
continent is constituted by continental blocks separated by suture
zones. The Indochina Peninsula of SE Asia comprises a collage of con-
tinental blocks, including the Shan–Thai and Indochina blocks
(Ferrari et al., 2008; Metcalfe, 2011). SE Asia crustal motions inferred
from GPS and paleomagnetic studies indicate a more complex pattern
of deformation. About 700 km southeastward extrusion of the Indo-
china Block together with Eastern Malaya and SW Borneo has been
delineated using seismic tomographic imaging (Replumaz et al.,
2004). Accompanied with southeastward displacement, these blocks
also underwent differential tectonic rotations.
Two papers reported new results to constrain the tectonic his-
tory of Indochina block. Otofuji et al. (2012) carried a paleomag-
netic study of the Upper Cretaceous red beds from the Kontum
massif, Vietnam. Their new paleomagnetic results suggest that
the Kontum massif has rotated 27.0°±9.8° count clockwise
with respect to Indochina block since the Late Cretaceous. The
Kontum massif and the Indochina Peninsula as a composite
tectonic unit experienced 5.1°±2.4° southward displacement be-
tween 32 Ma and 17 Ma. The southward displacement and count
clockwise rotation were a result of left lateral motion along the
East Vietnam Boundary Fault.
Liu et al. (2012) presented new geochronological and geochemical
data from several plutonic intrusions along the northern Truong Son
belt, Vietnam. The Truong Son belt is a NW–SE-oriented late Paleozo-
ic–early Mesozoic belt lying to the west of the Ailaoshan–Song Ma su-
ture zone. Liu et al. (2012) show that three stages of magmatism
during the tectonic evolution of the Song Ma belt are responsible for
the generation of the granitoids. These three stages are 280–270 Ma,
250–245 Ma, and 229–202 Ma, respectively. The early phases of mag-
matism are related to subduction processes during the formation of
the Song Ma suture, but the later phase is attributed to the post-
collisional extension. The subduction at the southern part (Song
Ma) of the Ailaoshan–Song Ma oceanic plate was later than that at
the northern part (Ailaoshan). Such characteristics may imply that
suturing along the Ailaoshan–Song Ma belt was diachronous during
the SE Asian Tethyan evolution.
We hope that this special issue of papers embodies key aspects of
the current state of knowledge and the recent advances that have
been made in the fields of field geology, geochemistry, structural ge-
ology, geophysics and geodynamics. The diverse papers in this special
issue demonstrate both the multidisciplinary approach and the
breadth of geoscience information are required to understand the tec-
tonic history and coupled metallogeny of Asia. The papers presented
in this special issue represent recent findings from multidisciplinary
studies relating to the origin and evolution history of Asian blocks,
the growth history of the Tibetan Plateau and Central Asian Orogenic
Belt, the comparison of ancient tectonics with current deformation,
and studies that integrate geological and geophysical data to lead to
new tectonic models. Arguably most excitingly, some of the models
offer alternative views as to how the eastern Asian blocks and Tibetan
plateau may have developed and suggest that the mechanisms for
their formations are drastically different from that previously
thought. These results benefit other studies and lead to new
tectonic-related research. The papers in this special issue also demon-
strate how a high-quality radiometric dating and metallogenic and
tectonic analysis, including construction of an associated metallo-
genic–tectonic model, can greatly improve knowledge of regional ge-
ology and interpretations of the origins of host rocks, mineral
deposits, and metallogenic belts. Such knowledge also facilitates the
development of improved models that relate deposit formation to
specific environments and styles of tectonism that are applicable to
other areas of the globe.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to the Editor-in Chief
Professor Santosh for his kind offer and encouragement to devote a
special issue of the Journal of Gondwana Research to this interdisci-
plinary research on Asia. We thank the authors for participating in
and contributing to this special issue. We are extremely grateful for
the continuous support, guidance and editorial assistance from the
journal's office during the process of this issue. This issue has bee ben-
efit by the useful insights provided by 37 journal referees. We wish to
express our gratitude to the referees for their very detailed and sub-
stantive reports that often were extremely instrumental in shaping
papers in a way to make them better comprehensible for scientists
from different discipline. The referees of this special issue are, in al-
phabetical order: Michael Buslov, Hanlin Chen, Huayong Chen, Yun-
peng Dong, Michel Faure, David Finn, Stephane Guillot, Zhengfu
Guo, Nigel Harris, Xiumian Hu, Baochun Huang, Sanzhong Li, Peter
Lippert, Yan Liu, Yoichiro Otofuji, Franco Pirajno, Bo Ran, Reimar Selt-
mann, Min Sun, Xiaodong Tan, Tianfen Wan, Yuejun Wang, John
Wakabayashi, Qiang Wang, Changzhi Wu, Wenjiao Xiao, Quanren
Yan, Zhengyu Yang, An Yin, Tzen-Fu Yui, Jinjiang Zhang, Shihong
Zhang, Shuan-Hong Zhang, Guochun Zhao, Di-Cheng Zhu, Jian-Bo
Zhou, and Zhidan Zhao. One of us (WJX) would like to acknowledge
funds from the Major State Basic Research Development Program of
China (2007CB411307), the Innovative Program of the Chinese Acad-
emy of Sciences (KZCX2-YW-Q04-08), and the National Natural Sci-
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Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California at
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