A refined model for lithosphere evolution beneath the decratonized northeastern North China Craton

  • A-Bing Lin
  • Jian-Ping ZhengEmail author
  • Qing Xiong
  • Sonja Aulbach
  • Jiang-Gu Lu
  • Shao-Kui Pan
  • Hong-Kun Dai
  • Hui Zhang
Original Paper


The eastern North China Craton (NCC), where an initially diamondiferous deep cratonic mantle root was lost during Paleozoic and Mesozoic time, represents a prime natural laboratory to study the processes and mechanisms of continental lithospheric mantle destruction and replacement, which remain, however, controversial. In this study, detailed petrography, whole-rock and mineral compositions of spinel-facies peridotite xenoliths from Cenozoic basalts in the Huinan area, northeastern NCC, are presented to provide new constraints on the transformation of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM). These xenoliths define two groups based on textural observation and mineral modes: Group 1 peridotites show protogranular textures and consist of harzburgites and dunites. They have low Al2O3 contents in whole-rock and orthopyroxene (0.53–1.06 wt.% and 2.10–3.21 wt.%, respectively), high olivine modes (79–96%), whole-rock MgO (44.8–47.9 wt.%) and Mg# (100 Mg/(Mg + FeT) molar: 90.1–90.7), suggesting that they were derived from moderately refractory SCLM. In contrast, Group 2 xenoliths display porphyroclastic to protogranular textures and consist of lherzolites and harzburgites with rare spinel-pyroxene intergrowths. They have overall higher Al2O3 (1.48–3.23 wt.% and 3.02–4.65 wt.%, respectively) in whole-rock and orthopyroxene, lower olivine modes (64–83%), MgO (38.6–44.5 wt.%) and whole-rock Mg# values 87.6–90.1, and they may represent fertile SCLM. Peridotites of both groups have similar equilibration temperatures (i.e., 923–977 °C and 881–1110 °C, respectively), which are not correlated with Mg# in olivines, suggesting that they coexist over a range of depths. However, clinopyroxenes in the Group 1 xenoliths display LREE-enriched and convex-upward REE patterns, whereas those in Group 2 mainly show LREE-depleted and spoon-shaped REE patterns, with minor LREE-enriched and convex-upward ones. In addition, spinel-pyroxene intergrowths indicative of garnet destabilization are ubiquitous in Group 1, consistent with variable Al2O3 over a narrow range of Mg# in some opx and low HREE in some cpx, but rare in Group 2 peridotites. Interaction of the fertile mantle with melts similar to the Cenozoic basalts at high melt–rock ratios eradicated most signatures of their origin in the garnet stability field, whereas the refractory peridotites, which reacted with residual melts or fluids at low melt/fluid-rock ratios, retained evidence for the former presence of garnet. We suggest that, combined, these observations are best reconciled if portions of ancient refractory lithosphere, which were partly delaminated during multiple subduction episodes affecting the eastern NCC, were re-accreted together with fertile mantle during asthenospheric upwelling driven by extension.


Peridotite xenoliths Refertilization Mantle metasomatism Lithospheric mantle North China Craton 



We thank Editor Othmar Müntener, reviewer Emily J. Chin and an anonymous reviewer for constructive comments and suggestions on the original manuscript. This version benefited from constructive reviews by Emily J. Chin and Qiao Shu, and suggestions and handling by Editor Timothy Grove. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China project (41520104003) and the National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFC0600403).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Earth Sciences, State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral ResourcesChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Goethe Universität, Institut für GeowissenschaftenFrankfurtGermany
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Submarine Geosciences, State Oceanic Administration, Second Institute of OceanographyMinistry of Natural ResourcesHangzhouChina

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