Suturing of the Proto- and Paleo-Tethys oceans in the western Kunlun (Xinjiang, China)

F. Mattern*, W. Schneider

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

241 Citations (Scopus)


The Proto-Tethys Ocean between the North and South Kunlun began to form during the Sinian. Remnants of this ocean are preserved at the Oytag-Kudi suture. The presence of Paleozoic arc batholiths in the northern South Kunlun and their absence in the North Kunlun indicates southward subduction of the Proto-Tethys Ocean beneath the South Kunlun. Opposite subduction polarity can be demonstrated for the Late Paleozoic to mid-Mesozoic when the southerly located Paleo-Tethys Ocean was consumed beneath the South Kunlun and generated a Late Carboniferous to mid-Jurassic magmatic arc in the southern South Kunlun. Arc magmatism affected the southern South Kunlun and the large Kara-Kunlun accretionary prism (a suture sensu lato) which formed as a result of Paleo-Tethys' consumption. The dextral shear sense of ductile faults which are located at the margins of the arc batholiths, and which parallel the South Kunlun/Kara-Kunlun boundary, suggests oblique plate convergence with a dextral component. Different lines of evidence encourage us to interpret the Proto-Tethys ophiolites of the Oytag-Kudi zone as at least partly derived from an oceanic back-arc basin. In contrast, we assume that Paleo-Tethys was a large ocean basin which was eliminated directly at the southern margin of the South Kunlun where no oceanic back-arc region existed. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-650
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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