Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 223–255 | Cite as

Jurassic integrative stratigraphy and timescale of China

  • Diying HuangEmail author


The Jurassic stratigraphy in China is dominated by continental sediments. Marine facies and marine-terrigenous facies sediment have developed locally in the Qinghai-Tibet area, southern South China, and northeast China. The division of terrestrial Jurassic strata has been argued, and the conclusions of biostratigraphy and isotope chronology have been inconsistent. During the Jurassic period, the North China Plate, South China Plate, and Tarim Plate were spliced and formed the prototype of ancient China. The Yanshan Movement has had a profound influence on the eastern and northern regions of China and has formed an important regional unconformity. The Triassic-Jurassic boundary (201.3 Ma) is located roughly between the Haojiagou Formation and the Badaowan Formation in the Junggar Basin, and between the Xujiahe Formation and the Ziliujing Formation in the Sichuan Basin. The early Early Jurassic sediments generally were lacking in the eastern and central regions north of the ancient Dabie Mountains, suggesting that a clear uplift occurred in the eastern part of China during the Late Triassic period when it formed vast mountains and plateaus. A series of molasse-volcanic rock-coal strata developed in the northern margin of North China Craton in the Early Jurassic and are found in the Xingshikou Formation, Nandailing Formation, and Yaopo Formation in the West Beijing Basin. The geological age and markers of the boundary between the Yongfeng Stage and Liuhuanggou Stage are unclear. About 170 Ma ago, the Yanshan Movement began to affect China. The structural system of China changed from the near east-west Tethys or the Ancient Asia Ocean tectonic domain to the north-north-east Pacific tectonic domain since 170–135 Ma. A set of syngenetic conglomerate at the bottom of the Haifanggou or Longmen Fms. represented another set of molasse-volcanic rock-coal strata formed in the Yanliao region during the Middle Jurassic Yanshan Movement (Curtain A1). The bottom of the conglomerate is approximately equivalent to the boundary of the Shihezi Stage and Liuhuanggou Stage. The bottom of the Manas Stage creates a regional unconformity in northern China (about 161 Ma, Volcanic Curtain of the Yanshan Movement, Curtain A2). The Jurassic Yanshan Movement is likely related to the southward subduction of the Siberian Plate to the closure of the Mongolia-Okhotsk Ocean. A large-scale volcanic activity occurred in the Tiaojishan period around 161–153 Ma. Note that 153 Ma is the age of the bottom Tuchengzi Formation, and the bottom boundary of the Fifth Stage of the Jurassic terrestrial stage in China should have occurred earlier than this. This activity was marked by a warming event at the top of the Toutunhe Formation, and the change in the biological assembly is estimated to be 155 Ma. The terrestrial Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary (ca. 145.0 Ma) in the Yanliao region should be located in the upper part of Member 1 of the Tuchengzi Formation, the Ordos Basin in the upper part of the Anding Formation, the Junggar Basin in the upper part of the Qigu Formation, and the Sichuan Basin in the upper part of the Suining Formation The general characteristics of terrestrial Jurassic of China changed from the warm and humid coal-forming environment of the Early-Middle Jurassic to the hot, dry, red layers in the Late Jurassic. With the origin and development of the Coniopteris-Phoenicopsis flora, the Yanliao biota was developed and spread widely in the area north of the ancient Kunlun Mountains, ancient Qinling Mountains, and ancient Dabie Mountain ranges in the Middle Jurassic, and reached its great prosperity in the Early Late Jurassic and gradually declined and disappeared and moved southward with the arrival of a dry and hot climate.


Continental Jurassic Biostratigraphy Isotope chronology Age frame Yanshan Movement Yanliao biota 


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I am grateful to Shenghui Deng, Jingeng Sha, Meizhen Cao, Yanbin Shen, Shaofeng Liu, Qingren Meng, Guoli Wu, Yichun Zhang, Baoyu Jiang, Qiang Ma, Yaqiong Wang, and Yanan Fang for literature help and helpful comments; Guoli Wu for the field photos; Yanzhe Fu, Chenyang Cai, Yitong Su, and Jie Sun for technical assistance; and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions. This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2016YFC0600406), the Strategic Priority Research Program (B) (Grant Nos. XDB18000000, XDB26000000), the Programme Macroevolutionary Processes and Palaeoenvironments of Major Historical Biota (Grant No. XDPB05) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41688103). This study is a contribution to UNESCO-IUGS IGCP Project 632.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy; Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Nanjing Institute of Geology and PalaeontologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina

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