International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 108, Issue 1, pp 137–154 | Cite as

Early Jurassic highly fractioned rhyolites and associated sedimentary rocks in southern Tibet: constraints on the early evolution of the Neo-Tethyan Ocean

  • Chao WangEmail author
  • Lin Ding
  • Li-Yun Zhang
  • Xiang-Li Ding
  • Ya-Hui Yue
Original Paper


An integrated investigation of Lower Jurassic Jialapu Formation (including U–Pb dating of igneous and detrital zircons, geochemical analysis of igneous rocks, and analysis of detrital modes of sandstone interbeds) in the southern margin of the Lhasa terrane, Tibet, provides new constraints on the early evolution of the Neo-Tethyan Ocean. Our new data reveal a stage of silicic magmatism, with an arc affinity along the southernmost Eurasian margin at 193–190 Ma, which is characterized by high SiO2 (76.5–80.0 wt%), Na2O (5.30–7.22 wt%) and low K2O (0.07–0.55 wt%), MgO (0.16–0.54 wt%), Cr (1.44–4.37 ppm), and Ni (0.67–1.62 ppm) contents with low εNd(t) values of + 1.21 to + 2.33. These silicic volcanic rocks are enriched in large ion lithophile elements (LILEs) and light rare earth elements (LREEs) and can be classified as highly fractionated I-type rhyolites. They show a wide range of zircon εHf(t) values from − 11.7 to + 9.4, suggesting variable contributions from both juvenile and ancient crustal sources. It is concluded that the Jialapu Na-rich rhyolites were derived by the partial melting of a highly differentiated residual melt separated from the K-rich magma, triggered by upwelling asthenospheric mantle. Detrital zircons in the sandstones from the Lower Jurassic Jialapu Formation are dominantly the Mesozoic ones, which are likely derived from Lhasa terrane sources. Considering the associated sedimentary records as well as literature data, it is suggested that an Early Jurassic back-arc basin developed along the southern Lhasa terrane in response to the northward subduction of the Neo-Tethyan Ocean.


Na-rich rhyolites Early Jurassic Arc-back-arc basin Lhasa terrane Neo-Tethyan Ocean 



We are grateful to Jing Xie, Shou-Qian Zhao, Yu-Qiong Wang, and Ya-Li Sun for their assistance with CL imaging, EPMA, whole-rock trace elements and Sr–Nd isotope analysis. We thank Hou-Qi Wang and Fu-Long Cai for participating in the geologic field survey and useful discussion on this early manuscript. We thank Editor Wenjiao Xiao and Profs. Eduardo Garzanti, Zhidan Zhao, Wang Qiang and one anonymous reviewer for their constructive and thoughtful comments, which significantly improved the quality of the manuscript. This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41490610), the National Key Research and Development Project of China (2016YFC0600303), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2018M631591) and Supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA 20070301).

Supplementary material

531_2018_1646_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (265 kb)
Detailed methods for zircon in situ U–Pb-Hf isotopic analysis and whole-rock major, trace element and Sr–Nd analysis. (XLSX 264 KB)
531_2018_1646_MOESM2_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Appendix Table A1 Zircon LA-ICP-MS U–Pb in situ analyzing results for the Jialapu rhyolites. Appendix Table A2 LA-MC-ICPMS zircon Hf isotopes of Jialapu rhyolites. Appendix Table A3 Whole-rock major, trace element, and Sr–Nd isotope data of the rhyolitic rocks from the Jialapu Formation. Appendix Table A4 Representative feldspar microprobe analyses for the Jialapu rhyolites. Appendix Table A5 LA-ICP-MS analytical result of zircon REE content (ppm) for the Jialapu rhyolites. Appendix Table A6 Zircon LA-ICP-MS U–Pb in situ analyzing results for the Jialapu sandstones (DOCX 16 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Continental Collision and Plateau Uplift, Institute of Tibetan Plateau ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Chinese Academy of Sciences Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth SciencesBeijingChina

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