Evidence for long-lived (>100 Myr) continental intraplate volcanism: Mongolia since the last ocean closure

Papadopoulou, Martha; Barry, Tiffany; Dash, Batulzii; Halton, Alison; Sherlock, Sarah and Hunt, Alison (2024). Evidence for long-lived (>100 Myr) continental intraplate volcanism: Mongolia since the last ocean closure. Gondwana Research, 133 pp. 30–59.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gr.2024.04.009


Since the closure of the Mongol-Okhotsk Ocean in the Mesozoic, Mongolia has been in an intraplate tectonic setting; the nearest plate boundary being ∼3,000 km to the east, at the active Pacific subduction front. Throughout this time, Mongolia has experienced magmatism in the form of distinctive, small-volume volcanic fields dispersed along the central and eastern parts of the country. On the basis of geochemical, isotopic, palaeomagnetic and zircon data, the magmatism can be discriminated from preceding post-collisional magmatism. Gradual change from a lithospheric to an asthenospheric mantle source suggests lithospheric delamination occurred beneath Mongolia, starting at ∼140 Ma and terminating at ∼107 Ma. Accordingly, the onset of intraplate magmatism is set at 107 Ma. Regardless of the spatial and temporal occurrence and evolution of the intraplate magmatism in Mongolia, the geochemistry of the resultant volcanic rocks throughout time remains remarkably similar, although the cause of magmatism has been much debated.

Through evaluation of available K-Ar and Ar-Ar data from the literature, along with newly-obtained data from three different volcanic fields, we have identified that the intraplate volcanism in Mongolia has been near-continuous since its onset, with hiatuses of only <6 Myr. Since 35 Ma, hiatuses have reduced to <1 My. In light of these findings, we re-evaluate the various models that have been proposed for the origins of this long-lived volcanism and suggest the cause of magmatism results from asthenospheric upwellings initiated by a delamination event in the Mesozoic, but have been prolonged by enhanced mantle flow relating to northward progression of India, the closure of Neo-Tethys, and ultimately the Indo-Asian collision. This example of intraplate magmatism is one of the longest-lived volcanic intraplate regimes on Earth that does not appear to relate to a geophysically-recognisable high heat-flux mantle plume.

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