Heat flow study of the Emeishan large igneous province region: Implications for the geodynamics of the Emeishan mantle plume
Abstract The Emeishan large igneous province (ELIP) is widely considered to be a consequence of a mantle plume. The supporting evidence includes rapid emplacement, voluminous flood basalt eruptions, and high mantle potential temperature estimates. Several studies have suggested that there was surface uplift prior to the eruption of the Emeishan flood basalts. Additionally, the plume's lateral extent is hard to constrain and has been variously estimated to be 800–1400 km in diameter. In this study, we analyzed present-day heat flow data and reconstructed the Permian paleo-heat flow using vitrinite reflectance and zircon (U-Th)/He thermochronology data in the ELIP region and discussed implications for the geodynamics of the Emeishan mantle plume. The present-day heat flow is higher in the inner and intermediate zones than in the outer zone, with a decrease of average heat flow from 76 mW/m2 to 51 mW/m2. Thermal history modeling results show that an abnormal high paleo-heat flow of 90–110 mW/m2 was caused by the Emeishan mantle plume activity. Based on the present-day heat flow data, we can calculate that there is lithospheric thinning in the central ELIP region, which may be due to the destruction of the lithosphere by mantle plume upwelling and magmatic underplating. The Permian paleo-heat flow anomaly implies that there was a temperature anomaly in the mantle. The ascending high-temperature mantle plume and the thinned lithosphere may have induced the large-scale uplift in the ELIP region. According to the range of the surface heat flow anomaly, it can be estimated that the diameter of the flattened head of the Emeishan mantle plume could have reached ~ 1600–1800 km. Our research provides new insights into the geodynamics of the Emeishan mantle plume through study of heat flow.