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Late Mesozoic-Cenozoic exhumation history of the Lesser Hinggan Mountains, NE China, revealed by fission track thermochronology



This study uses zircon and apatite fission-track (FT) analyses to reveal the exhumation history of the granitoid samples collected from the Lesser Hinggan Mountains, northeast China. A southeast to northwest transect across the Lesser Hinggan Mountains yielded zircon FT ages between 89.8 ± 5.7 and 100.4 ± 8.6 Ma, and apatite FT ages between 50.6 ± 13.8 and 74.3 ± 4.5 Ma with mean track lengths between 11.7 ± 2.0 and 12.8 ± 1.7 µm. FT results and modelling identify three stages in sample cooling history spanning the late Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras. Stage one records rapid cooling from the closure temperature of zircon FT to the high temperature part of the apatite FT partial annealing zone (∼210–110 °C) during ca. 95 to 65 Ma. Stage two records a period of relative slow cooling (∼110–60 °C) taking place between ca. 65 and 20 Ma, suggesting that the granitoids had been exhumed to the depth of ∼1−2 km. Final stage cooling (60–20 °C) occurred since the Miocene at an accelerated rate bringing the sampled rocks to the Earth's surface. The maximum exhumation is more than 5 km under a steady-state geothermal gradient of 35 °C/km. Integrated with the tectonic setting, this exhumation is possibly led by the Pacific Plate subduction combined with intracontinental orogeny associated with asthenospheric upwelling. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.