A refined late-Cryogenian – Ediacaran Earth history of South China: phosphorous-rich marbles of the Dabie and Sulu orogens
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The late-Cryogenian – Ediacaran geological framework for South China is constructed principally from sedimentary successions preserved in the central and western regions of the Yangtze Block. New stratigraphic and carbonate-carbon isotope data allow us to extend that framework into the exhumed HP-UHP subduction complexes of the eastern Dabie and Sulu orogens that separate the South and North China cratons. Those data show that marble and phosphorous-rich (P-rich) units in those complexes were originally part of an Ediacaran shallow-marine shelf-carbonate platform. The basal pebbly schist (metadiamictite) and lowermost P-rich marble of the Jinping Formation (Haizhou Group) in the Sulu Orogen matches in both facies character and C-isotope profile that of the Marinoan-equivalent glacial-cap carbonate couplet of the Nantuo and Doushantuo formations. The Daxinwu Formation (Susong Group) in the eastern Dabie Orogen contains a marble unit that has, for several hundreds of metres, a strikingly uniform C-isotope profile of low δ13C positive values and is overlain by a P-rich graphitic schist; these features match those of the late Ediacaran to early Cambrian Dengying Formation. These correlations establish that the HP-UHP metasedimentary rocks, many of which were once considered to be Palaeo- to Mesoproterozoic in age, are a Neoproterozoic-age cover sequence of the continental margin of the Yangtze Block. Further, their widespread development limits their utility as indicators of offset across the Tan-Lu fault zone and, instead, favours tectonic models that interpret that feature as a continental-scale tear fault formed during the Mesozoic collision and suturing of the North and South China cratons.