A stratigraphically coherent blueschist terrane near Aksu in northwestern China is unconformably overlain by unmetamorphosed sedimentary rocks of Sinian age (∼600 to 800 Ma). The pre-Sinian metamorphic rocks, termed the Aksu Group, were derived from shales, sandstones, basaltic volcanic rocks, and minor cherty sediments. They have undergone multi-stage deformation and transitional blueschist/greenschist-facies metamorphism, and consist of strongly foliated chlorite-stilpnomelane-graphite schist, stilpnomelane-phengite psammitic schist, greenschist, blueschist, and minor quartzite, metachert, and meta-ironstone. Metamorphic minerals of basaltic blueschists include crossitic amphibole, epidote, chlorite, albite, quartz, and actinolite. Mineral parageneses and compositions of sodic amphibole suggest blueschist facies recrystallization at about 4 to 6 kbar and 300 to 400° C. Many thin diabasic dikes cut the Aksu Group; they are characterized by high alkali, TiO2, and P2O5 contents and possess geochemical characteristics of within-plate basalts; some of these diabasic rocks contain sodic clinopyroxene and amphibole as primary phases and have minor pumpellyite, albite, epidote, chlorite, and calcite as the prehnite/pumpellyite-facies metamorphic assemblage. This prehnite/pumpellyite-facies overprint did not affect the host rocks of the blueschist-facies lithologies. K-Ar and Rb-Sr ages of phengite and whole rocks from pelitic schists are ∼690 to 728 Ma, and a 40Ar/39Ar age of crossite from the blueschist is 754 Ma. The basal conglomerate of the overlying Sinian to Eocambrian sedimentary succession contains clasts of both the blueschist and cross-cutting dike rocks, clearly demonstrating that conditions required for blueschist-facies metamorphism were attained and ceased at least 700 Ma. The northward-increasing metamorphic grade of the small blueschist terrane may reflect northward subduction of an accretionary complex beyond the northern edge of the Tarim craton. Abundant subparallel diabasic dikes indicate a subsequent period of Pre-Sinian rifting and diabasic intrusion along the northern margin of Tarim; a Sinian siliciclastic and carbonate sequence was deposited unconformably atop the Aksu Group and associated diabase dikes.
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