Journal of Earth Science  2019, Vol. 30 Issue (4): 689-706   PDF    
Timing of Lithospheric Extension in Northeastern China: Ev-idence from the Late Mesozoic Nianzishan A-Type Granitoid Complex
Jinhua Qin 1, Cui Liu 2, Yuchuan Chen 1, Jinfu Deng 2     
1. MNR Key Laboratory of Metallogeny and Mineral Assessment, Institute of Mineral Resources, CAGS, Beijing 100037, China;
2. School of Earth Sciences and Resources, China University of Geosciences, Beijing 100083, China
ABSTRACT: New zircon U-Pb dates obtained by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), whole-rock geochemical data and Sm-Nd and Rb-Sr isotopic data are presented for miarolitic alkaline granites, porphyritic syenite and rhyolites of the Nianzishan A-type granitoid complex (NAGC) in the Great Xing'an Range-Songliao Basin in Northeast (NE) China. New crystallization ages of 112.95±0.93 and 114.1±1.71 Ma for granite and 118.6±0.51 Ma for porphyritic syenite were determined by high-precision LA-ICP-MS. The εNd(t) of the rocks range from +1.85 to +2.06, with Nd model ages (TDM1) from 671 to 821 Ma, indicating that the NAGC originated from juvenile source rocks and exhibits geochemical characteristics of A1-and AA-type granite which formed in an extensional setting. We attribute the magmatism to regional extension and lithospheric thinning caused by the subduction of the western Pacific Plate about 120 to 100 Ma.
KEY WORDS: A-type granite    new zircon U-Pb zircon ages    NE China    lithospheric extension    

The Nianzishan A-type granitoid complex (NAGC) is located in the Great Xing'an-Mongolian orogenic belt (XMOB) in NE China, at the eastern end of the Central Asian orogenic belt (CAOB) surrounded by the Siberian massif, Sino-Korean massif, and North China Craton (Ge et al., 1999; Şengör and Natal'in, 1996; Şengör et al., 1993). The complex evolution history and multiple collisions of micro-continental fragments since the Paleozoic make this an important site for studying the tectonic evolution of East Asia (Zhao et al., 2018; Xu et al., 2013; Wu et al., 2011; Zhang Y L et al., 2008).

Loiselle and Wones (1979) characterized A-type granites as anorogenic, mildly alkaline, with anhydrous affinities. Their occurrence has important tectonic implications, providing insights into post-collisional and intraplate extensional magmatic processes (Bornin, 2007; Frost et al., 2007; Liu et al., 2003; King et al., 1997; Eby, 1992, 1990; Creases et al., 1991; Whalen et al., 1987; Collins et al., 1982). Therefore, the Mesozoic A-type granites of NE China have received increasing attention and the NAGC should play a key role in understanding the history of regional extension in East Asia (Tian et al., 2014; Yang et al., 2006; Wu et al., 2002; Jahn et al., 2001).

A change in regional tectonics from compressional to extensional has occurred in NE China since Mesozoic times, but the timing of the transition is controversial. Previous studies suggested that the change had ceased by the Early Cretaceous and was followed by strong lithospheric thinning in the Late Cretaceous (130 to 120 Ma) (Wu et al., 2002; Jahn et al., 2001). The first age to be obtained from the NAGC was by a K-Ar method on biotite and K-feldspar and yielded Cretaceous ages of 123 Ma for miarolitic alkaline granite and 135 Ma for porphyritic syenite (Li and Yu, 1993), constraining the age of A-type granitic magmatism at around 130 Ma in an anorogenic extensional setting (Zhang, 2009; Wu et al., 2002; Jahn et al., 2001; Li and Yu, 1993). However, recent research has obtained younger ages of A-type granites than those reported previously, and the latest U-Pb zircon concordia ages of nearby A-type granites show a broad range from 100 to 120 Ma (Qiu et al., 2014; Qin et al., 2012; Wu et al., 2002). Better constrained dates should improve our understanding of tectonic setting.

We present new petrological, mineralogical, whole-rock geochemical data, Sr-Nd isotopes, and zircon U-Pb ages of the NAGC in this paper. Furthermore, in order to establish a tectonic framework for lithospheric extension and thinning in NE China since the Mesozoic, we have compiled ages of other Mesozoic igneous rocks from this region to construct a spatiotemporal pattern of tectonic evolution.


The Nianzishan A-type granitoid complex is located in the Great Xing'an Range, which is the eastern section of the CAOB. It is bounded by the Great Xing'an Range to the west and the Songliao Basin to the east (Fig. 1a). The regional tectonics and magmatic activity are complex and mark the closure of sutures between several microcontinents (Zhao et al. 2017; Wu et al., 2011; Zhang et al., 2006). The study area is in the Huaan depression, the subzone between the Longjiang uplift and the Nenjiang depression, bounded by the Nenjiang-Balihan fault, the Great Xing'an fault, and the Xar Moron River fault. The Yalu River fault is closely spatially related to the NAGC and trends NW to NNW. Fault activity occurred during the Late Mesozoic to Cenozoic, and was significantly later than the formation age of the NAGC (Qian et al., 2018). Voluminous volcanic rocks occur in the area. The oldest volcanic stratigraphic units in the study area belong to the Laolongtou Group (T1l) in the NW. Late Mesozoic volcanic units in the region comprise the Manitu Group (J3mn), the Baiyingaolao Group (K1b), and the Meiletu Group (K1m). Sedimentary formations are the Dashizhai Group (P2d), the Zhesi Group (P2z), and Quaternary sediments. Intrusive magmatic rocks are common in the region and comprise Late Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic monzonitic granites related to the NE-SW closure and extension of the Paleo-Asian Ocean (Fig. 1b). Late Mesozoic A-type granite with typical miarolitic cavities is common in the region, and its genesis is attributed to subduction of the Pacific Plate. In addition, dyke swarms of granitic and dioritic porphyries are found within Late Mesozoic strata (K1b).

Figure 1. (a) Regional tectonic map of NE China (after Zhang et al., 2006). ① Mongolia-Okhotsk suture zone; ② Deerbugan fault; ③ Hegenshan fault; ④ Xilamulun fault; ⑤ Nenjiang-Balihan fault; ⑥ Mudanjiang fault; ⑦ Jiamusi-Yitong fault; ⑧ Dunhua-Mishan fault; ⑨ Xilinhot-Alin central belt; (b) schematic geological map of the NAGC and surrounding area (Regional Geological Survey of Heilongjiang Province, China, unpublished).

The study area is near Qiqihaer City in Heilongjiang Province. The NAGC outcrops over an area of approximately 25 km2, and is divided into a central and a marginal facies (Fig. 1b); the boundary between them is gradational. Fresh granite is pale-red and turns brown when weathered (Figs. 2a, 2c). The granite at the center of the complex is medium to coarse- grained with a roughly circular outcrop approximately 4 km in diameter. Miarolitic cavities with diameters from 0.5 to 2.0 cm are uniformly distributed within the coarse-grained granite and infilled with quartz and blue to black hornblende. The marginal facies is of porphyritic alkaline granite, located mainly to the north and southeast and in contact with Early Cretaceous rhyolite. We have not examined these contacts in this study. This fine-grained granite is often weathered from a light color to brown (Fig. 2d). The country rock rhyolite is glassy and contains quartz and plagioclase (15 vol.%).

Figure 2. (a) and (c) field photographs, camera lens cap 67 mm diameter. (a)-(d) Miarolitic alkaline granite; (e) porphyritic syenite enclosure; (f) rhyolite. Q. Quarz; Kf. orthoclase; Pl. plagioclase; Arf. arfvedsonite; Agt. aegirine-augite. Dashed red line in (a) surrounds a microporphyritic syenite enclosure; (b) in plane-polarized light; (d), (e), (f) between crossed polars.

Alkaline miarolitic granite: The alkaline miarolitic granite is porphyritic, consisting of alkali-feldspar with hypidiomorphic quartz, blue-green pleochroic arfvedsonite and aegirine. Apatite, zircon, and magnetite are accessory phases. Alkali- feldspar phenocrysts are hypidiomorphic to idiomorphic K-feldspar (~45 vol.%) and albite (~20 vol.%) crystals up to ~3 mm, suggesting early crystallization. Feldspar grains have undergone sericitization and kaolinization. Interstitial, subhedral to anhedral quartz grains ranging from 1 to 2 mm in size constitute ~30 vol.% of the granite. Amphibole crystals range from 0.5 to 0.8 mm in size and constitute 5 vol.% to 10 vol.% of the granite. Pyroxene rims are observed around the amphibole grains. The acicular to fibrous amphibole is pleochroic from light brown to dark green. It contains 47.84 wt.% to 51.69 wt.% SiO2, 33.74 wt.% to 35.71 wt.% FeO, and 7.20 wt.% to 7.87 wt.% Na2O. On the basis of 23 oxygen atoms, Si is 7.856 to 8.270, A/(Na+K) is 0.796 to 1.187, and CaB is 0.043 to 0.235, indicating that the amphibole is typical arfvedsonite (Leake et al., 1997). Pyroxene contains 52.82 wt.% to 52.93 wt.% SiO2, 31.3 wt.% to 37.81 wt.% FeO, and 12.51 wt.% to 12.87 wt.% Na2O. Its orthoferrosilite (Fs) content is 49.4 wt.% to 50.0 wt.%, acmite (Ac) is 49.2 wt.% to 49.7 wt.%, and the rest is wollastonite (Wo) and enstatite (En). It is classified as acmite (Morimoto, 1988) (Figs. 2b, 2d).

Porphyritic syenite enclosures (sample NZS-7): Syenite enclosures 2 to 50 mm in size are common in the granite. They consist of fine-grained porphyritic syenite containing ca. 7-mm phenocrysts of K-feldspar (40 vol.%), plagioclase (5 vol.% to 10 vol.%), quartz (< 5 vol.%), and fine-grained groundmass (50 vol.%) (Fig. 2e).

Rhyolite (sample NZS-8): The rhyolite is porphyritic with dark gray phenocrysts, consisting of quartz (10 vol.% to 15 vol.%), and feldspar (5 vol.%) with grain sizes from 0.5 to 1 mm. Most quartz grains are angular and rounded at the margins. The groundmass (70 vol.% to 80 vol.%) is microcrystalline to cryptocrystalline or glassy (Fig. 2f).


Five samples were collected from the NAGC for analysis: three samples of miarolitic granite (NZS-3, NZS-4, and NZS-5); one porphyritic syenite (NZS-7); and one rhyolite (NZS-8). All samples were little weathered and appropriate for whole-rock geochemistry and Sr-Nd isotope analyses. Samples NZS-3, NZS-4 and NZS-7 were selected for geochronological dating.

3.1 LA-ICP-MS U-Pb Dating

Zircon grains were separated from samples NZS-3, NZS-4 and NZS-7 for U-Pb age dating. The bulk samples were crushed to 60 to 80 meshes size, and zircons were separated using gravity and electromagnetic techniques and finally hand-picked under a binocular microscope. The zircon crystals were then mounted on epoxy resin, smoothed and polished, and finally gold coated. They were examined using transmitted and reflected light and cathodoluminescence (CL) microscopy.

Zircon U-Pb ages were determined at the Institute of Mineral Resources, CAGS, Beijing, using a Finnigan, Neptune ICP-MS with a New Wave UP213 laser-ablation system. Helium was used as the carrier gas, and the beam diameter was 30 μm with a 10-Hz repetition rate and a laser power of 2.5 J/cm2. Eight ion counters were used to receive 238U, 235U, 232Th, 208Pb, 207Pb, 206Pb, 204Pb, and 202Hg signals simultaneously, while data for 208Pb, 232Th, 235U, and 238U were collected in a Faraday cage. Zircon GJ-1 was used as standard, and Plešovice zircon was used to calibrate the mass spectrometer. U, Th, and Pb concentrations were calibrated using 29Si as internal standard and zircon M127 (U: 923 ppm; Th: 439 ppm; Th/U: 0.475, Nasdala et al., 2008) as external standard. 207Pb/206Pb and 206Pb/238U were calculated using the ICP-MS DataCal 4.3 program. No correction was made for common Pb because of a high 206Pb/204Pb ratio. Abnormally high 204Pb data were deleted. The Plešovice zircon was dated as unknown and yielded a weighted mean 206Pb/238U age of 337±2 Ma (2SD, n=12), which is in good agreement with the recommended 206Pb/238U age of 337.13± 0.37 Ma (2SD) (Sláma et al. 2008). Age calculations were performed, and concordia diagrams generated using the Isoplot/Ex 3.0 software (Ludwig, 2003).

3.2 Major and Trace Elements

Major and trace elements were analyzed at the Hubei Testing Center, Wuhan. Relatively fresh samples were selected after examination in thin section under the microscope, sawn into slabs, and the central parts were used in whole-rock analysis. Specimens were crushed in a steel mortar and ground in a steel mill to powders of ~200 meshes. Major elements were analyzed by X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy using the methods of Norrish and Chappell (1977), and ferric and ferrous iron were determined using wet chemical methods.

Trace elements were determined in solution by ICP-MS at the National Research Center for Geoanalysis, Beijing. Approximately 40 mg of sample was dissolved in distilled HF+HClO4 in 15 mL Savillex Teflon screw-cap beakers. Analytical precision for most elements was typically better than 5% relative standard deviation (RSD), and the measured values for Zr, Hf, Nb, and Ta were within 10% of the certified values. The sample preparation and instrument operation and calibration were described by Qi et al. (2000).

3.3 Sr-Nd Isotope Analysis

Sr-Nd isotope analyses were performed using a Finnigan MAT262 mass spectrometer at China University of Geosciences, Beijing. Approximately 50 mg of whole-rock powdered sample were dissolved in a Teflon bomb using a mixture of HF and HNO3. Sr and rare earth elements (REE) were isolated using a 0.2 mL column filled with Sr and REE-Spec resins (manufactured by Eichrom Industries, Inc.) for selective extraction of Sr and REE, respectively. Nd fractions were further separated and purified using LN resin with HCl as eluent. Procedures for performing mass analyses followed those described by Qiao (1988). Rb and Sr mass fractionations were calibrated using 86Sr/88Sr=0.119 4, and Sr blank was < 100 pg during the entire process. The 87Sr/86Sr of the standard is 0.710 248±0.000 011. Nd blank was < 500 pg, and the 143Nd/144Nd of the standard was 0.512 111±0.000 011 (2σ, n=10); a 146Nd/144Nd=0.721 9 correction was applied to 143Nd/144Nd.

4 RESULTS 4.1 Zircon U-Pb Chronology

The zircon grains of samples NZS-3 and NZS-4 exhibit length-to-width ratios between 1 : 1 and 2 : 1 and are 100 to 300 μm in size. Most zircon grains have oscillatory zoning (Fig. 3), suggesting an igneous origin. U content is from 48 ppm to 523 ppm, Th content is from 38 ppm to 543 ppm, and Th/U ratio is > 0.4; all these values are characteristic of typical magmatic zircons (Schulz et al., 2006; Wu and Zhen, 2004; Rubatto, 2002).

Figure 3. Cathodoluminescence images of selected typical zircon grains.

The length-to-width ratios of zircon grains in sample NZS-7 and their internal structures are similar to those of the alkaline granite (2 : 1) and are overall > 100 μm (Fig. 3). U contents vary between 34 ppm and 3 525 ppm and Th between 48 ppm and 1 689 ppm; zircon Th/U averaged approximately 0.86. The zircons are grouped into (1) light-colored with U of 71.3 ppm to 357.11 ppm and Th of 75.2 ppm to 358.09 ppm and (2) dark with metamictization and U of 1 365.1 ppm to 1 697.3 ppm and Th of 423.69 ppm to 2 500.3 ppm.

4.1.1 Miarolitic alkaline granite (NZS-3 and NZS-4)

Nineteen out of thirty spot analyses of the miarolitic granite sample NZS-3 yielded 206Pb/238U ages of 107 to 133 Ma, with a concordia U-Pb age of 112.95±0.93 Ma (MSWD=1.14). This age provides the best estimate for the crystallization age of the NAGC (Fig. 4a). Thirteen spot analyses of the miarolitic granite sample NZS-4 yielded 206Pb/238U ages of 96 to 135 Ma and a concordia U-Pb age of 114.1±1.7 Ma (MSWD=0.72) (Fig. 4b). Two samples collected from different parts of the rock exhibited almost identical ages within analytical errors. Thus, the Nianzhishan A-type granitic magmatism is Late Cretaceous in age.

Figure 4. Zircon U-Pb concordia diagrams of the NAGC obtained by LA-ICP-MS; NZS-3, NZS-4. miarolitc alkaline granite; NZS-7. porphyrite syenite.
4.1.2 Porphyritic syenite inclusion (NZS-7)

Twenty-nine spot analyses yielded 206Pb/238U ages ranging from 102 to 131 Ma. The ages for the two zircon groups overlap each other. The age of the light-colored group ranges from 102 to 131 Ma, whereas that of the dark group ranges from 118±1 to 119±1 Ma. Seven of analyses are concordant or nearly concordant and cluster as a single population with weighted mean 206Pb/238U age of 118.6±0.51 Ma (MSWD=8.6) (Fig. 4c). Since the porphyritic syenite occurs as an inclusion within the granite, this age suggests that it crystallized somewhat earlier than the granite.

4.2 Geochemistry 4.2.1 Major elements

Table 1 lists major and trace element analyses. Miarolitic alkaline granite (samples NZS-3-5) has high SiO2 (71.98 wt.% to 72.90 wt.%), FeOT (2.96 wt.% to 3.39 wt.%), and K/Na > 1; its alkali content is 8 wt.% to 10 wt.%, FeOT/MgO ratios range 23 to 34, Al2O3 is less than 13 wt.%, A/CNK is from 0.95 to 1.01, and A/NK ratio is from 1.0 to 1.04. CIPW normative minerals yield a quartz content of 23.60 wt.% to 27.25 wt.%, plagioclase of 0.5 wt.% to 4 wt.%, alkali-feldspar of 63.2 wt.% to 70.6 wt.%, corundum < 1 wt.%, and pyroxene > 2 wt.%. The porphyritic syenite inclusion (sample NZS-7) has concentrations of 67.47 wt.% SiO2, 17 wt.% Al2O3, 0.24 wt.% MgO, 0.41 wt.% CaO, 5.50 wt.% Na2O, and 6.22 wt.% K2O and is characterized by high ALK (Na2O+K2O) (11 wt.%), and high K/Na ratio (1.13), A/CNK ratio of 1.01 and A/NK ratio of 1.05 point to a weakly peraluminous rock. CIPW normative minerals yielded 10.55 wt.% of quartz, 81.96 wt.% of alkali-feldspar, and 3.99 wt.% of plagioclase. Rhyolite (sample NZS-8) is similar to granite in composition, with high SiO2 and ALK and low Al2O3, MgO, CaO, Mn, Ti, and P contents. Total FeO and FeOT/ MgO are lower than those in the granite. A/CNK and A/NK ratio are 1.19 and 1.24, respectively. The CIPW normative minerals are quartz (39.7 wt.%); alkali-feldspar (54.54 wt.%); plagioclase feldspar (2.1 wt.%), and with corundum > 1 wt.%.

Table 1 LA-ICP-MS zircon U-Pb results of the Nianzishan A-type granitic composite (n.d.. not detected)

Granite and syenite affinities are displayed in Fig. 5 and calc-alkaline and alkaline (AC) affinities in Fig. 6. Samples of the NAGC have similar geochemical properties to other granitoids in the Great Xing'an-Songliao Basin in Northeast China in the age range 120 to 100 Ma (purple area in Figs. 5 and 6).

Figure 5. Total alkali-silica (TAS) classification diagram (Middlemost, 1994) of the NAGC major element analyses (Table 2). 1. olivine gabbro; 2. gabbro; 3. gabbroic diorite; 4. diorite; 5. granodiorite; 6. granite; 7. foidmonzo- gabbro; 8. monzo-gabbro; 9. monzo-diorite; 10. monzonite; 11. quartz monzonite; 12. foidolite; 13. foidmonzo-diorite; 14. foidmonzo-syenite; 15. syenite; 16. foid syenite. Purple area: range of 120-100 Ma granitoid compositions in the Great Xing'an-Songliao Basin in Northeast China.
Table 2 Geochemical compositions of the Nianzishan A-type granitic composite
Figure 6. SiO2 versus (Na2O+K2O-CaO) diagram. Black data points are from this study (Table 2), gray data points are from Lin et al. (2003) and Li (1992), colored areas from a dataset of 214 Early Cretaceous granitoid samples from the Great Xing'an-Songliao Basin in northeast China compiled for this paper. Purple area samples formed from 120 to 100 Ma, grey area samples formed from 140 to 120 Ma.
4.2.2 Trace elements Miarolitic alkaline granite (samples NZS-3-NZS-5)

The trace elements in all samples have broadly similar patterns with elevated Rb, U, Ta, Ce, Nd, and Hf and depleted Ba, K, La, Sr, P, and Ti (Fig. 7b). Contents of Zr+Nb+Ce+Y are from 1 394 ppm to 1 631 ppm, greater than the mean value of the global A-type granite content of 350 ppm proposed by Whalen et al. (1987). Ratio of 10 000×Ga/Al is > 4, which is close to the global average of 3.75 but higher than the boundary value of 2.6 for A-type granites. K/Rb ratios are from 214 to 263, and Rb/Sr are from 12 to 25. The chondrite-normalized REE patterns of the granites are similar (Fig. 7a), exhibiting LREE/HREE fractionation [(La/Yb)N from 9.14 to 11.46] and negative Eu anomalies (Eu/Eu* from 0.09 to 0.13). Total REE (from 499 ppm to 744 ppm) and heavy REE (from 48.16 ppm to 71.36 ppm) of the studied samples are higher than typical granites. The heavy rare earth elements vary a little perhaps due to fluid-rock interactions. The contents of Rb, Ga, Zr, and Ta in the porphyritic syenite enclosure (sample NZS-7) are high, whereas Ba and U are low. The 10 000×Ga/Al is 3.15. The content of Zr is 486 ppm, and Zr+Nb+Ce+Y is 696 ppm. The chondrite-normalized REE patterns show weak negative Eu anomalies (Eu/Eu*=0.37) and display fractionation of REE similar to the miarolitic alkaline granite [(La/Yb)N=9.38, Fig. 7b]. The rhyolite (sample NZS-8) has contents of Zr, Hf, Nb, Ta, Ga, and Zn enriched; Zr is 825 ppm, K/Rb ratio is 194, and Rb/Sr is 5.5. The contents of Zr+Nb+Ce+Y is 991 ppm and 10 000×Ga/Al is approximately 4. There are obvious negative anomalies in mantle-normalized Ba, Sr, Ti, and P concentrations (Fig. 7b). The total REEs are low (ΣREE=272 ppm). A clear Eu anomaly is observed in the chondrite-normalized REE diagram, with Eu/Eu*=0.06. However, fractionation of REE is not obvious, and the trend is relatively gentle [La/Yb)N=1.81].

Figure 7. General chondrite normalized rare earth element diagram of the NAGC (Sun and McDonald, 1989).

Compared to igneous rocks at 140 to 120 Ma, the NAGC has an extremely high total rare earth content and a more extreme negative Eu anomaly displayed in Fig. 7a. Again, more significant depletion of trace elements (Ba, Sr, Ti, P, Ta, Nb, etc.) can be recognized easily in Fig. 7b.

Zircon saturation temperature (Tzr) calculations indicate that temperatures of the NAGC A-type granites are from 961 to 981 ℃, with an average of 971 ℃, whereas Tzr values of the enclosure and rhyolite are 875 and 975 ℃. Sui and Chen (2011) obtained Tzr values of 868 to 928 ℃ for the NAGC A-type granites. Their Tzr values are probably slightly lower than ours because they did not measure TFe2O3. Our calculated Tzr value of 971 ℃ should be close to the magma temperature of the A-type granites, and is broadly consistent with temperatures independently constrained by oxygen isotope equilibrium temperatures (Wei et al., 2008).

4.3 Sr and Nd Isotopes

Sr-Nd isotopic data for the NAGC are listed in Table 3. The Sr contents of A-type granites are from 6.19 ppm to 9.63 ppm, compared with 17.20 ppm in the porphyritic syenite. Initial Sr and Nd isotopic ratios were back-corrected using ages of 112 and 114 Ma for A-type granites, and 118 Ma for porphyritic syenite. Variable and unreasonable (87Sr/86Sr)0 ratios less than basaltic achondrite best initial (BABI) (0.698 98) were found due to high 87Rb/86Sr ratios. However, the (143Nd/144Nd)0 ratios are robust with positive εNd(t) values ranging from +1.85 to +2.06. TDM1 ranges from 671 to 821 Ma. The εNd(t) values and TDM1 ages for the A-type granite, porphyritic syenite and rhyolite are similar, suggesting a common origin.

Table 3 Sr-Nd contents and isotope values
5 DISCUSSION 5.1 Timing of Magmatism

Reliable ages of the Nianzishan A-type granitoid complex have been lacking up to now. Li and Yu (1993) obtained an age of 123 Ma for the A-type granites by K-feldspar and biotite Ar-Ar dating, similar to a whole-rock Rb-Sr isochron age obtained by Yan et al. (2000). Li and Yu. (1993) dated porphyritic syenite at 135 Ma from a whole-rock Rb-Sr isochron. This study has obtained high-precision LA-ICP-MS zircon U-Pb ages of 112.95±0.73 and 114.1±1.7 Ma for the A-type granites and 118.77±0.43 Ma for the porphyritic syenite (Table 4). These newly available ages are younger than those previously reported and suggest that the A-type granites and porphyritic syenite are the products of late stage Early Cretaceous magmatism.

Table 4 Ages of A-type granites in the Great Xing'an Range-northwestern Songliao Basin in Early Cretaceous

Jahn et al. (2001) reported an Rb-Sr isochron age of 125 Ma for the Baerzhe A-type granite, and Qiu et al. (2014) obtained the same age from zircon U-Pb dating. The Shangmachang A-type granite is 106 Ma old (Wu et al., 2002), and the Alongshan A-type granite crystallized 117 Ma ago. The age of the A-type granite in the Longtoushan is 117 Ma, for the Gangshan A-type granite is 107.7 Ma, and for the Baishilazi A-type granite is 123±3 Ma (Wu et al., 2002), respectively. Qin et al. (2012) reported 117.8 Ma for the Shanglüshuiqiao A-type granite in the Jilin Province. Zhang Q F et al. (2007) and Ge et al. (1999) obtained ages of 111 to 120 and 102 to 107 Ma for volcanics of the Yingcheng Formation (K1yc) at Shenping and Xingcheng, respectively. Nearly 100 igneous samples, of which 10 are A- type granite, are compiled in Fig. 8. There were two main peaks of magmatism during the Period from 140 to 100 Ma. The magmatism between 140 and 120 Ma shows obvious calc-alkaline affinity and suggests a large-scale tectonic transformation event in the Mesozoic era. But most of the A-type granites occur in the period 120 to 100 Ma.

Figure 8. Histogram of age distribution of igneous and A-type granites in the Great Xing'an Range-NE Songliao Basin between 140 to 100 Ma.
5.2 Magma Genesis

Nianzishan miarolitic alkaline granite contains sodium- rich pyroxene (aegirine-augite) and arfvedsonite; has high SiO2, FeOT, alkalies, K/Na ratios, and FeOT/MgO ratios; and plots in the alkaline field in Fig. 6. The trace element composition of the Nianzishan miarolitic granite is characteristic of A-type granites. The Nianzishan miarolitic granite is enriched in HFSE (Ga, Zr, Nb, and Y) and REE but depleted in Ba, Sr, P, Ti, and Eu. Zr+Nb+Ce+Y is 1 394 ppm to 1 631 ppm, ∑REE is 560.05 ppm to 866.61 ppm, and 10 000×Ga/Al is 4.10-4.29. All these values are much higher than the lowest values usually observed in A-type granites (Whalen et al., 1987). Affinities with A-type granite were evidenced by geological, petrological, mineralogical and geochemical features of the samples studied. Using various discrimination diagrams to further constrain the type of A-type granite, it can be seen that all samples in this study plot into the A-type granite field (Fig. 9). Whole-rock TZr values suggest that overall magmatic temperatures were higher than 850 ℃ for the NAGC (Table 2), in good agreement with global hot granites (Miller et al., 2003) that originated by low degrees of partial melting of dry source rock(s) by dehydration reactions in extensional settings (e.g., Creaser et al., 1991; Clement et al., 1986).

Figure 9. Discrimination diagrams for A-type granites. (a) FeOT/MgO versus Zr+Nb+Ce+Y; (b) Na2O+K2O/CaO versus Zr+Nb+Ce+Y; (c) Na2O+K2O/CaO versus 10 000×Ga/Al; (d) FeOT/MgO versus 10 000×Ga/Al (after Whalen et al., 1987).
5.3 Magma Source

Whole-rock Sr-Nd isotope data for the Nianzishan A-type granite have previously been published (Wei et al., 2002, 2001a, b; Li and Yu, 1993; Li, 1992), but because of low Sr contents and high 87Rb/86Sr ratios, there were large uncertainties in back- corrected (87Sr/86Sr)0 ratios (Wu et al., 1999; Li, 1992).

Such previous studies in NE China reported positive εNd(t) values, low (87Sr/86Sr)0, and young TDM1 (Li J Y et al., 2014; Li H X et al., 2012; Guo et al., 2010; Zhang J H et al., 2008; Liu et al., 2005; Lin et al., 2003; Jahn et al., 2001; Shao et al, . 1999). The high εNd(t) and low (87Sr/86Sr)0 ratios for granites from the west coast of the United States have been used to constrain mantle material input into the continental margin, but mantle input cannot explain the isotopic distribution of igneous rocks in Northeast China. Wu et al. (1999) and Hong et al. (2000) suggested that the positive εNd(t) and low initial ISr ratios from the Xing'an-Mongolian orogenic belt in NE China might represent new underplating material derived from partial melting of subducted oceanic crust.

As shown in Fig. 10, all samples from the Xing'an- Mongolian orogenic belt plot between CHUR and DM lines. Hong et al. (2000) suggested that the TDM1 ages of the granites in the Xing'an-Mongolian orogenic belt coincided with the expansion of the Paleo-Asian Ocean during the Proterozoic, and the granites were derived from partial melting of subducted oceanic crust. Combined whole-rock Nd and zircon oxygen isotopes (low δ18O values ranging from 3.08‰ to 4.27‰ for non-metamict phases) further indicated that gabbroic oceanic crust could be the source rock of the Nianzishan A-type granites, and their formation contributed to the net continental growth during the Late Mesozoic (Wei et al., 2008, 2002, 2001a, b).

Figure 10. εNd(t) versus emplacement age and εNd(t) versus model age (TDM1) (b) diagrams (after Hong et al., 2000).
5.4 Geological Implications 5.4.1 Tectonic setting

A-type granites were once thought to be rifting related, e.g., in Nigeria and Greenland. However, subsequent studies showed that A-type granites also occur within post-orogenic settings (Eby, 1992). The tectonic setting of the NAGC is therefore constrained by major and trace elements in this study. It can be seen that all available samples fall clearly within the A1-type field (Figs. 11a, 11b, 11c) and the AA field (Fig. 11d) (Hong et al., 1995). Both AA and A1 represent extensional settings. On the tectonic discrimination diagrams of Pearce (1984), samples from the NAGC plot in within plate environments (WPG in Fig. 12).

Figure 11. (a) and (b) Nb-Y-3Ga and Nb-Y-Ce triangles (after Eby, 1992); (c) Yb/Ta versus Y/Nb diagram (after Eby, 1992); (d) R1 versus 10 000×Ga/Al diagram (after Hong et al., 2000).
Figure 12. Tectonic discrimination diagrams for the NAGC (after Pearce et al. 1984). Solid data points are from this study, gray ones are after Lin et al. (2003).
5.4.2 Petrotectonic assemblage

The notion of petrotectonic assemblages was first proposed by Dickinson (1971) to identify ancient tectonic settings (Condie, 2014). The concept reflects a correlation between igneous rocks and tectonic environment (Deng et al., 2007, 2004, 1996).

The NAGC is located on the east side of the XMOB at the junction of the Xing'an and Songnen blocks. In this area Early Cretaceous (140 to 120 Ma) intrusive rocks comprise alkali- feldspar granite, granite, quartz monzonite, granodiorite, tonalite, monzonite, and melteigite (Table 5). The Peacock index results show that they mainly comprise CA and only a small amount of calcium (C) and AC. Exposed intrusive rocks are less common in the later part of the Early Cretaceous (120-100 Ma) and comprise alkali granite, syenogranite, granite, porphyry, diorite, and metamorphic core complexes. Intrusive rocks are predominantly alkaline (A) and AC. The Mesozoic granitoids of Jilin Province are granite and monzonitic granite (CA) at 130 to 120 Ma and alkali-feldspar granite composites (A) at 115 Ma (Sui, 1995).

Table 5 Petrotectonic assemblage of the Great Xing'an Range-Songliao Basin in Early Cretaceous

Volcanic rocks outcrop in the Great Xing'an Range and the western Songliao Basin and range stratigraphically from old to new as follows: Shangkuli Formation (K1s), Illek Group (K1y), Mailer Group (K1m), and Baiyingaolao Group (K1b). The Early Cretaceous (140 to 120 Ma) volcanics are olivine basaltic andesite, mugearite, latite, trachyte, olivine basalt, and rhyolite. Rocks show CA and AC properties, and the olivine basalts are tholeiitic (TH).

Volcanic assemblages at 120 to 100 Ma are composed of rhyolite, alkaline rhyolite, anganite, andesite, and basalt and occur in the Yingcheng Group (K1yc) in the Songliao Basin. The volcanics are mainly alkaline (A). Rhyolite in the margin of the Songliao Basin exhibits A-type characteristics (Wang and Xu, 2003; Ge et al., 2000). The rhyolitic cover of the NAGC has A-type characteristics, and its age and geochemistry are consistent with the volcanics of the Yingcheng Group (K1yc) (Liu et al., 2014; Li and Yu, 1993).

These igneous rocks suggest an active continental margin and arc environment in the Great Xing'an Range and Songliao Basin during the Early Cretaceous (K1-1) and the Ergun Block suggests an extensional setting. The igneous assemblages for the later part of the Early Cretaceous (K1-2) all suggest stretching and thinning.

5.4.3 Timing constrains on regional extension

Wang and Xu (2003) studied the formation pressure of Mesozoic volcanic rocks in the Songliao Basin and proposed that basaltic trachyandesite and trachyandensite of the Huoshiling Group formed at 1.0 to 1.2 GPa. The Shahezi Group and Illek Group in the Great Xing'an Range yielded pressures of 1.2 to 1.4 GPa, and the Yincheng Group formed at 0.6 to 1.0 GPa. Differences in pressure suggest that the lithospheric thickness varied from 40 to 20 km and 46 to 90 km and was the thinnest (20 to 30 km) at 120 to 100 Ma.

In summary, igneous rocks related to compressional settings were widespread in the Great Xing'an Range-Songliao Basin at 140 to 120 Ma, and roots of the lithosphere from that period still exist (Fig. 13a). With continuing subduction of the Paleo-Pacific Plate, large scale delamination occurred in the NE China and the lithospheric thinning reached its peak from 120 to 100 Ma (Fig. 13b).

Figure 13. Tectonic evolution model of northeast China at 140 to 120 Ma. (a) Period of 140 to 120 Ma, transition stage from compressed to extended setting with lithospheric roots still there. (b) Period of 120 to 100 Ma, peak stage of lithospheric delamination and thinning (Lithospheric thickness data from Wang and Xu, 2003).

(1) The age of the Nianzishan A-type granite is from 112.95±0.93 to 114.1±1.7 Ma, and the age of the porphritic syenite is 118.6±0.51 Ma. Sr-Nd isotopes and Nd model ages suggest that they originated from partial melting of a common juvenile crust source rock.

(2) The geochemical characteristics of the Nianzishan A-type granitoid complex suggest an affinity with A1- or AA-subtype granite formed within an extensional setting.

(3) The occurrence of the NAGC suggests that the Great Xing'an Range-Songliao Basin underwent lithosphere thinning and extension from 120 to 100 Ma.


This Study was funded by the China Geological Survey (Nos. DD20160123 (DD-16-049, D1522), DD20160346, 1212011121075, 212010911028, 12120114020901) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. NSFC40802020). The authors are grateful to Yu Zhang of the Geological Survey of Heilongjiang Province for their help in the field. For the zircon analyses, the authors thank Kejun Hou and Qian Wang at the Institute of Mineral Resources of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences. The authors sincerely thank J. B. Whalen, Suhua Cheng, and Yang Wang for their guidance. Thanks go to two reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions. The final publication is available at Springer via

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