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Two‐stage Cretaceous Exhumation of Hengshan Complex in Hunan Province, SE China: Constraints Arising from 40Ar–39Ar Geochronology and Cretaceous Tectonic Implications

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The Hengshan complex is located in the central part of SE China, which underwent rapid tectonic uplift in the Cretaceous just like many other complexes on the continent. 40Ar–39Ar geochronological data from the Hengshan complex suggest that two episodes of crustal cooling/extension took place in this part of the continent during the Cretaceous time. The first stage of exhumation was active during ca. 136–125 Ma, with a cooling rate of > 10 °C/Ma. The second stage of exhumation happened at ca. 98–93 Ma, with a cooling rate of > 10 °C/Ma. Considering the folding in the Lower Cretaceous sedimentary rocks and the regional unconformity underneath the Upper Cretaceous red beds, it is believed that the Cretaceous crustal extension in SE China was interrupted by a compressional event. The reversion to extension, shortly after this middle Cretaceous compression, led to the rapid cooling/exhumation of the Hengshan complex at ca. 98–93 Ma. The Cretaceous tectonic processes in the hinterland of SE China could be controlled by interactions between the continental margin and the Paleo–pacific plate.
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Keywords: 40Ar‐39Ar geochronology; Cretaceous tectonics; Crustal extension; Hengshan complex; SE China

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2015

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