Constraints of late Cambrian mafic rocks from the Qushi'ang ophiolite on a back-arc system in a continental margin, East Kunlun Orogen, Western China
Abstract Early Palaeozoic ophiolites emplaced in the central East Kunlun fault zone (CEKF) offer critical clues to the tectonic evolution of the Proto-Tethys ocean and the accretionary process of CEKF. The Qushi'ang Ophiolite, located within the eastern segment of the CEKF, consists of dismembered serpentinites, meta-gabbros and meta-basalts. This study presents petrologic, whole-rock geochemical, and in situ zircon U-Pb and Hf isotope data for basic rocks (both metagabbros and metabasalts) from the Qushi'ang ophiolite to constrain the formation age and tectonic setting of the ophiolite. Zircons from two meta-gabbro samples yield concordant U-Pb ages of ca. 498 Ma and ca. 505 Ma, indicating that the Qushi'ang ophiolite was formed in the late Cambrian. The meta-gabbros and meta-basalts show significant enrichment in large ionic lithophile elements (LILEs), such as Cs, Rb, Ba, U, and Pb, and depletion in high field strength elements (HFSEs), such as Nb, Ta, Zr, and Ti, suggesting the influence of fluids derived from a subducting oceanic slab. On the N-MORB normalized trace element diagrams, these rocks share similar features with arc basalts and back-arc basalts and far away from fore-arc basalts (FABs) and normal mid-ocean basalts (N-MORBs). Low zircon e Hf (t) values (−2.9 to +0.2) for the meta-gabbros further indicate that the Qushi'ang ophiolite likely originated from an weakly enriched mantle wedge source. Geochemical discrimination diagrams show that the Qushi'ang ophiolite formed in a back arc basin setting. Our new analyses, combined with previous data, suggest that the Qushi'ang ophiolite represents a relict of a nascent back-arc basin, similar to the scenario of the Okinawa trough in Western Pacific.