Thermal histories of Cretaceous basins in Korea: Implications for response of the East Asian continental margin to subduction of the Paleo-Pacific Plate

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Abstract

Thermal histories of Cretaceous sedimentary basins in the Korean peninsula have been assessed to understand the response of the East Asian continental margin to subduction of the Paleo-Pacific (Izanagi) Plate. The Izanagi Plate subducted obliquely beneath the East Asian continent during the Early Cretaceous and orthogonally in the Late Cretaceous. First, the Jinan Basin, a pull-apart basin, was studied by illite crystallinity and apatite fission-track analyses. Analytical results indicate that Jinan Basin sediment was heated to a maximum temperature of approximately 287°C by burial. The sediment experienced two cooling episodes during ca 95–80 Ma and after ca 30 Ma, with a quiescent period between them. A similar cooling pattern is recognized in the Gyeongsang Basin, the largest Cretaceous basin in Korea. The Jinan and Gyeongsang Basins were cooled mainly by exhumation between ca 95 and 80 Ma, but the former was exhumed slightly earlier than the latter by transpressional force due to the subduction direction change of the Izanagi Plate. Comparison of thermal history of Korean Cretaceous basins with those of granitoids in northeastern China and the accretionary complexes in southwestern Japan reveals that the Upper Cretaceous regional exhumation of the East Asian continental margin including the Korean peninsula during ca 95–80 Ma was facilitated by the subduction of the Izanagi–Pacific ridge, which migrated northeastwards with time, resulting in the end of regional exhumation at ca 80 Ma in this region.

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