Maturation from oceanic arcs to continental crust: insights from Paleozoic magmatism in West Junggar, NW China

Jiyuan Yin, Wenjiao Xiao, Tao Wang, Mike Fowler, Andrew C. Kerr, Min Sun, Rob Strachan, He Huang, Ji'en Zhang, Wen Chen, Zaili Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the processes involved in the transformation of juvenile basaltic oceanic arc crust into mature continental crust remains a key challenge in Earth sciences. In this contribution, we present a comprehensive synthesis of in situ zircon Usingle bondPb age and Hfsingle bondO isotope data for Paleozoic intrusions within the West Junggar oceanic arc, NW China. Our study reveals four distinct pulses of magmatic activity: Early Cambrian to Early Ordovician (515 to 486 Ma); Late Ordovician to Middle Devonian (445 to 392 Ma); Early Carboniferous (343 to 310 Ma) and Late Carboniferous to Middle Permian (309 to 259 Ma). These pulses have varied spatial and temporal distributions. All magmatic rocks display consistently high zircon Hf and whole-rock Nd isotope values, but substantial variations in zircon O isotopes. There are two groups of intrusions: those with high zircon δ18O (>6.5‰) and those with mantle-like zircon δ18O (ca. 5.5‰). The high zircon δ18O intrusions are predominantly concentrated in the southern West Junggar and their Hf and Nd isotopes indicate the involvement of supracrustal material and juvenile basaltic crust in their petrogenesis. Binary mixing calculations indicate a contribution from the supracrustal rocks ranging from 10% to 50%. The intrusions with mantle-like zircon δ18O are found primarily in northern West Junggar with a small amount occurring in southern West Junggar. The intrusions record a variety of magma sources and processes as demonstrated by Hfsingle bondO isotope and geochemical data. These data indicate partial melting of metasomatized depleted mantle, mixing of depleted mantle and juvenile crust, and partial melting of trapped juvenile oceanic crust or mafic lower crust. Hf model ages reveal significant crustal growth in the West Junggar, characterized by three distinct episodes of crust formation occurring at approximately 656–684 Ma, 524–536 Ma, and 441–471 Ma, involving periodic remelting of igneous material derived from a depleted mantle source. This newly-formed crust maintains a mantle-like oxygen isotope composition despite being repeatedly sampled by magmas for up to 0.26 Ga. Since the timing of crustal growth occurred independently of the major magmatic pulses, the latter reflect primarily reworking and remelting processes. Two significant episodes of magmatic activity, the late Silurian to early Devonian and the late Carboniferous to early Permian, preserve a signature of ocean ridge subduction. High-temperature magmatism during these periods promoted extensive melting of the mafic lower crust, oceanic crust, and supracrustal rocks, leading to the compositional transformation from basaltic to felsic continental crust. This comprehensive compilation provides valuable insights into granite petrogenesis, crustal evolution, and the diverse processes involved in the maturation of oceanic arc crust and its contribution to continental crust formation and evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104795
Number of pages19
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
Early online date7 May 2024
Publication statusEarly online - 7 May 2024


  • Zircon Hf–O isotope
  • crustal growth
  • crustal maturation
  • intra-oceanic arc
  • Central Asian Orogenic Belt

Cite this