Development of a Dense Cratonic Keel Prior to the Destruction of the North China Craton: Constraints From Sedimentary Records and Numerical Simulation

Liang Liu, Lijun Liu, Yi Gang Xu, Bing Xia, Qiang Ma, Martin Menzies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

It remains unclear why some cratonic lithospheres like the North China Craton (NCC) have undergone significant thinning and catastrophic destruction. Here we provide evidence for a dense Phanerozoic cratonic keel beneath the NCC that provides a reason for the craton destruction during the late Mesozoic. We observed two long-lasting (>100 Myr) episodes of surface subsidence that formed the saucer-shaped basin topography on the NCC from the Paleozoic to early Mesozoic, which was not associated with lithosphere stretching or a high sea level. Based on a detailed geological and geochemical analysis and 2-D numerical experiments, we show that this subsidence most likely reflects the secular cooling and eclogitization of iron-rich materials infiltrated into the cratonic mantle since the early Phanerozoic, a process that is the most prominent over the eastern NCC. This result implies that the lithosphere beneath the eastern NCC became gravitationally unstable prior to its Mesozoic destruction as its keel became progressively denser during the Paleozoic. An early Mesozoic partial removal of this dense keel possibly led to widespread surface uplift of the NCC, as indicated by regional basin inversion. We conclude that the long-term subsidence of a cratonic basin reflects a gradual increase of the lithospheric density and that this type of subsidence should not be considered a characteristic of stable cratons as previously assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13192-13206
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume124
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Keywords

  • Phanerozoic cratonic basin
  • craton destruction
  • dense cratonic keel
  • long-term subsidence
  • mantle refertilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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