Provenance of Upper Permian-Lowermost Triassic Sandstones, Wutonggou Low-Order Cycle, Bogda Mountains, NW China: Implications on the Unroofing History of the Eastern North Tianshan Suture


This study investigates the provenance of sedimentary rocks in Bogda Mountains, NW China, and reconstructs the lithology and unroofing history of the Eastern North Tianshan Suture. Petrographic point counting data of sandstones and compositions of conglomerates of upper Permian-lowermost Triassic Wutonggou low-order cycle from Zhaobishan, North Tarlong, Taodonggou, and Dalongkou sections in the southern and northern foothills of Bogda Mountains were used to interpret the temporal and spatial variations of lithology of the Eastern North Tianshan Suture, which is the sediment source area. Three compositional trends were identified. A trend of upward-increasing quartz content and granitic pebbles in Zhaobishan section suggests a change from the undissected volcanic arc, accretionary wedge and trench setting to predominantly transitional volcanic arc and subordinate accretionary wedge and trench, in the eastern part of the Eastern North Tianshan Suture. In North Tarlong and Taodonggou sections, however, the lithic content decreases and the contents of quartz and granitic pebbles increase up sections. These trends indicate that the western part of the Eastern North Tianshan Suture changed from an undissected volcanic arc to the transitional volcanic arc, accretionary wedge and trench. No clear trend in the lithic-rich sandstones of the Dalongkou section indicates that sediments were derived from the undissected volcanic arc in the Eastern North Tianshan Suture and local rift shoulders. Compositional variations of studied rocks suggest that the Eastern North Tianshan Suture was an amalgamated complex with great spatial and temporal heterogeneities in lithology and experienced persistent unroofing during late Permian-earliest Triassic. This study reconstructs a key element of the Chinese Tianshan Suture and serves as an example to understand the unroofing processes of ancient sutures.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering


National Science Foundation, Grant IES-1714749

Keywords and Phrases

Bogda Mountains; Eastern North Tianshan Suture; NW China; Provenance; Unroofing; Wutonggou low-order cycle

Geographic Coverage

Northwestern China

Time Period

Permian; Triassic

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

2095-3836; 2524-4507

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





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Publication Date

01 Dec 2020


Article Location