Petrology and geochronology of andalusite- and sillimanite-bearing kyanite metapelites from the Gobi Altai Mountains: Evidence for prolonged convergent tectonics in the Central Asian Orogenic Belt

Nobuhiko Nakano, Yasuhito Osanai, Sereenen Jargalan, Tatsuro Adachi, Boldbaatar Dolzodmaa, Syeryekkhaan Kundyz, Masaaki Owada, M. Satish-Kumar

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3 Citations (Scopus)


To further constrain the tectonic evolution of the convergent margin of the West Mongolian segment in the Paleo–Asian Ocean, we have investigated coarse-grained kyanite metapelites associated with quartz veins in the Gobi Altai Mountains, Mongolia, where the metamorphic belt is in a thrust contact with a Paleozoic accretionary complex. The metapelites contain coarse-grained granoblastic kyanite grains that are surrounded by sillimanite (Sil-II) with moat-like andalusite (And-II). The garnet grains in the garnet-bearing kyanite metapelites contain inclusions of andalusite (And-I) in their cores and sillimanite (–Sil-I) in their mantles. Detailed textural characterization of the aluminosilicate phases indicates five distinct generations in the sequence andalusite (And-I), sillimanite (–Sil-I), kyanite (Ky), sillimanite (Sil-II), and andalusite (And-II). Thermobarometric calculations and thermodynamic modeling suggest a hairpin-shaped P–T evolution with prograde conditions starting from ~530 °C at 3.5 kbar, reaching a peak of 600 °C at 6 kbar, and then a retrogression to ~550 °C at 4 kbar. U-Pb zircon and U–Th–Pb monazite ages indicate that the multistage aluminosilicate formation has occurred during c. 260–245 Ma. The detrital zircon age distribution is essentially similar to those in the accretionary sedimentary rocks from the entire Altai Range (a sharp peak at 550–490 Ma and a broad peak at 900–700 Ma), but is characterized by more abundant Proterozoic zircon grains and an older maximum deposition age (Early Ordovician) compared with Devonian pelitic gneisses in the Mongolian Altai. These petrological and geochronological results indicate the following development of the orogen: (1) Subduction of an oceanic plate beneath a microcontinental block as early as 550 Ma, evidenced by the youngest peak of detrital zircon ages. (2) Development of the accretionary wedge and volcanic front due to maturation of the arc until c. 360 Ma. The development of the volcanic front due to the magmatism has provided abundant Paleozoic detritus to the accretionary wedge and has stemmed supply of Proterozoic detritus from the inland at the same time. (3) Burial of the youngest accretionary wedge at c. 360–350 Ma, which is not observed in the current samples. Ridge subduction has also been suggested to have occurred in this period. (4) Arc magmatism in the upper (older) part of the accretionary wedge during the late Permian that resulted in prograde high-T and low-P metamorphism (formation of And-I). (5) Burial of the heated accretionary wedge to a depth of ~20 km due to subsequent collision (formation of Sil-I and Ky) at c. 260 Ma. (6) Rapid exhumation of the buried accretionary wedge to a shallow depth by thrusting (formation of Sil-II and And-II) at c. 245 Ma. In summary, the metapelites in the Altai Range clearly preserve the evolution of both the accretion and collision events as well as their transformation processes, which are likely to be a good natural example of the Wilson cycle for a period of ~300 Myr.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106362
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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