Linking hinterland evolution and continental basin sedimentation by using detrital zircon thermochronology: a study of the Khorat Plateau Basin, eastern Thailand
The effectiveness of detrital zircon thermochronology as a means of linking hinterland evolution and continental basin sedimentation studies is assessed by using Mesozoic continental sediments from the poorly understood Khorat Plateau Basin in eastern Thailand. New uranium lead (V-Pb) and fission-track (FT) zircon data from the Phu Kradung Formation identify age modes at 141 ± 17 and 210 ± 24Ma (FT) and 2456 ± 4,2001 ± 4,251 ± 3, and 168 ± 2Ma (V-Pb), which are closely similar to data from the overlying formations. The FT data record post-metamorphic cooling, whereas the V-Ph data record zircon growth events in the hinterland. Comparison is made between detrital zircon V-Ph data from ancient and modern sources across Southeast Asia. The inherent stability of the zircon V-Pb system means that 250Myr of post-orogenic sedimentary recycling fails to change the regional zircon V-Pb age signature and this precludes use of the V-Pb approach alone for providing unique provenance information. Although the V-Pb zircon results are consistent with (but not uniquely diagnostic of) the Qinling Orogenic Belt as the original source terrane for the Khorat Plateau Basin sediments, the zircon FT cooling data are more useful as they provide the key temporal link between basin and hinterland. The youngest zircon FT modes from the Khorat sequence range between 114 ± 6 (Phra Wihan Formation) and 141 ± 17Ma (Phu Kradung Formation) that correspond to a Late Jurassic/Early Cretaceous reactivation event, which affected the Qinling Belt and adjacent foreland basins. The mechanism for regional Early Cretaceous erosion is identified as Cretaceous collision between the Lhasa Block and Eurasia. Thus, the Khorat Plateau Basin sediments might have originated from a reactivation event that affected a mature hinterland and not an active orogenic belt as postulated in previous models.