Cenozoic evolution of the AltynTagh and East Kunlun fault zones inferred from detrital garnet, tourmaline and rutile in southwestern Qaidam Basin (Northern Tibetan Plateau)
This study focuses on the Cenozoic provenance and tectonic evolution of the southwestern Qaidam Basin through geochemical analysis of detrital garnet, tourmaline and rutile. The variation of detrital mineral compositions indicates that the Cenozoic evolution can be divided into three stages: (i) before the deposition of the upper Xiaganchaigou Formation (before 37.8 Ma); (ii) between the deposition of the upper Xiaganchaigou Formation and the Shangganchaigou Formation (from 37.8 to 22 Ma); (iii) since the deposition of the Xiayoushashan Formation (since 22 Ma). In the first stage, abundant garnets from high-grade meta-basic and ultramafic rocks in the sediments from the Ganchaigou area support a provenance from the South Altyn Tagh HP/UHP metamorphic zone. The low percentage of tourmalines from granitoid rocks in the sediments in the Kunbei-L€ucaotan area suggests a provenance from the East Kunlun fault zone, indicating that the Qimen Tagh Shan was not high enough to prevent the transport of sediments from the southern Qaidam Basin. The sediments in the Qigequan area were derived from both the Altyn Tagh fault zone and the East Kunlun fault zone. In the second stage, the tectonic activity consisted in the rapid uplift of the Altyn Shan. Changes in garnet composition indicate a lower detrital contribution from high-grade metamorphic rocks. In the third stage, the disappearance of garnets from high-grade metamorphic rocks and scattered temperatures of rutiles in the Ganchaigou area suggest that the source area shifted from the South Altyn Tagh HP/UHP metamorphic rocks to weakly metamorphosed Meso-Neoproterozoic sedimentary rocks. The increase in granitoid-derived tourmalines in the Kunbei-L€ucaotan area is indicative of the rapid uplift of the Qimen Tagh Shan. The provenance evolution in the southwestern Qaidam Basin indicates that the tectonic activity along the Altyn Tagh fault zone can be divided into an early stage of Altyn Shan uplift and a later stage of left-lateral slip. At the same time, tectonic movement along the East Kunlun fault zone initiated.