Tectonic linkage between the Korean Peninsula and mainland Asia in the Cambrian: Insights from U-Pb dating of detrital zircon

Hyeong Soo Kim, Mi Kyeong Hwang, Jin Han Ree, Keewook Yi

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43 Citations (Scopus)


The establishment of robust Paleozoic tectonic links between parts of the Korean Peninsula and cratonic blocks within China remains uncertain, despite their important implications for the overall tectonic evolution of East Asia. Here we provide new SHRIMP U-Pb detrital zircon geochronological constraints on correlations between sedimentary rocks of the Taebaeksan Basin (Cambrian-Ordovician) of South Korea and possible source rocks in the North and South China cratons. The detrital grain compositions and whole-rock rare earth element (REE) compositions of sandstones from the Cambrian formations in western (Sambangsan) and eastern (Myeonsan) parts of the Taebaeksan Basin suggest that the sedimentary provenance of these two formations is either a recycled orogen or a magmatic arc. The magmatic (eastern part) versus metamorphic (western part) origins inferred for the youngest populations (ca. 0.5-0.6. Ga) of detrital zircon grains from the Cambrian formations collectively indicate that rapid uplift and erosion of the source rocks for the formations took place soon after the associated magmatic and metamorphic events. Thus, we propose that the paleo-sedimentary environments in which these two formations were deposited may have been retroarc basins with the detrital zircons originating from magmatic arcs. The Early Cambrian formation in the eastern Taebaeksan Basin contains populations of detrital zircon grains that show prominent age peaks at ca. 2.0. Ga and ca. 1.8. Ga, and a distinct lack of Meso- to Neoproterozoic ages, whereas the Middle Cambrian formation in the western Taebaeksan Basin exhibits age peaks at ca. 1.0. Ga and ca. 0.7. Ga. These age spectra imply that the western Taebaeksan area at the margin of the North China Block may once have been near Gondwana, whereas the eastern Taebaeksan area may have been situated at the margin of the North China Block more distant from Gondwana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-218
Number of pages15
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Apr 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) , funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology ( 2010–0009429 ) to H.S. Kim and partially by NRF 2010–0024206 to J.-H. Ree. We thank Ian Williams and an anonymous reviewer for helpful and constructive suggestions that improved the manuscript significantly.


  • Cambrian Tectonic linkage
  • Detrital zircon
  • East Asia
  • Gondwana
  • Taebaeksan Basin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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