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Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 62 (2013) 1–3

copy Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 62 (2013) 1–3 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

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Journal of Asian Earth Sciences

journal homepage: www.else

Sciences journal homepage: www.else Preface Introduction to special issue: Geology of the Lake


Introduction to special issue: Geology of the Lake Baikal region

The region around Lake Baikal ( Fig. 1 ) is an outstanding natural laboratory for studying geological processes of the Earth’s crust and deep lithosphere which have been occurring over the past 3.5 Ga. Fields of research include petrology, geochemistry, tecton- ics, sedimentology, seismology, surface and deep water environ- ments with their potential applications relative to water and mineral resources and to hazard mitigation. International geologic investigations in the Baikal area date back to the 1970s ( Logatchev and Florensov, 1978 , and references therein). However, a lot of very exciting and unexpected results have been obtained only recently. Early Precambrian rocks of the Siberian craton are widely ex- posed owing to Mesozoic and Cenozoic tectonics along the north- western shore of Lake Baikal and the Major Sayan Fault ( Fig. 1 ). The most ancient magmatic zircons of the area were dated as old as 3.4 Ga ( Poller et al., 2005; Bibikova et al., 2006 ). Since that time the Siberian craton has experienced multiple stages of develop- ment with a prominent crust-forming event at 1.8 Ga ( Gladkochub et al., 2006, 2009 ). During a significant portion of the Precambrian the Siberian craton belonged to Proterozoic supercontinents including Rodinia, which broke up completely by about 0.65 Ga (e.g., Li et al. 2008 ). The post-Rodinia formation of the Central Asian orogenic belt, which consists of numerous terranes of various ages including microcontinents, oceanic plateaus, paleo-island arcs and related complexes presents many intriguing questions. Prior to the accre- tion of these terranes to the Siberian craton, the terranes belonged to the Paleo-Asian Ocean ( Dobretsov and Buslov, 2007; Windley et al., 2007 ). After the Paleo-Asian Ocean closed, the evolution of the Lake Baikal region was controlled by processes related to the so-called Mongolia–Okhotsk Ocean development. The remnants of this paleo-ocean survived only along the narrow Mongolia– Okhtosk suture zone ( Fig. 1 ). The Mongolia–Okhotsk Ocean was a large-scale embayment of the Paleo-Pacific Ocean, and was closed completely in the study area by the Early Jurassic ( Zorin, 1999 ). La- ter on, the Lake Baikal region experienced a number of rifting events in Mesozoic and Cenozoic time. Mesozoic extension was responsible for granitoid magmatism and related bimodal volca- nism ( Vorontsov et al., 2002; Jahn et al., 2009; Andryushchenko, 2010; Andryushchenko et al., 2010 ) plus exhumation of numerous Metamorphic Core Complexes adjacent to Lake Baikal in the Trans- baikalian area ( Donskaya et al., 2008 ). Although this region devel- oped in a continental setting, the volcanic rocks of Late Jurassic age exhibit subduction-type trace element features such as negative Nb and Ta anomalies (with respect to La) ( Fig. 2 ). Such geochemical

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features completely disappear in the volcanic rocks of Cretaceous time ( Fig. 2 ). An additional focus of study in the Lake Baikal region is the vari- ety of ore deposit types. These deposits have been produced throughout the history of crustal-forming processes in the area and are associated with many of the regional igneous and tectonic events (e.g. Pirajno et al., 2009 ). Last, but not least, is the consideration of recent geological pro- cesses. Lake Baikal is the oldest lake on Earth and contains one quarter of its drinkable water. It occupies two large rift basins, positioned in the central part of the Baikal rift system. The age of the Lake Baikal is at least 8.4 million years as dated by 10 Be of the lacustrine sediments ( Horiuchi et al., 2003 ). These sediments, which were recovered during an international drilling project ( Kuzmin et al., 1997 and subsequent studies), provide a unique re- cord of climatic changes in mainland Asia. The uppermost sedi- ments contain gas hydrate horizons and although the hydrate volume is sub-economic ( Vanneste et al., 2001 ), Lake Baikal repre- sents an important ‘laboratory’ for gas hydrate studies in a fresh- water environment. A modern seismic refraction study suggests that the Moho be- neath the rift is not significantly thinned as was predicted. New observations ( Nielsen and Thybo, 2009 ) suggest that thinning asso- ciated with extension is compensated by injection of mafic melts into the lower crust. Such a process leads to the paradoxical result that the central part of the rift system, which is occupied by Lake Baikal, is extensively intruded at deep levels but completely free of Late Cenozoic eruptions ( Fig. 1 ), whereas the southwestern part of the rift system is characterized by rather voluminous Late Ceno- zoic lava outcropping at the surface, but no lower crustal mafic intrusions have been recognized. It has been debated whether the volcanism was sourced in deep or shallow mantle and thus respectively caused by plume or lithospheric extension ( Rasskazov et al., 2002; Yarmolyuk et al., 2003; Barry et al., 2007; Ivanov et al., 2011). Recently, a possible link between the volcanism and a re- mote Pacific slab was suggested ( Zorin et al., 2006 ), extending Zhao et al.’s (2009) big mantle wedge model further inland in Central Asia. Another reason for detailed investigations in the Baikal rift con- cerns understanding its earthquakes. Recent research is focused mainly on studying strain and stress evolution and has high- lighted: (1) Rupture patterns during moderate-size events re- corded by instruments ( Radziminovitch et al., 2006 ) (2) Historical records of large events ( Delouis et al., 2002 ), and (3) Stress loading occurring in the interseismic periods ( San’kov et al., 2004 ). Many questions remain under debate, such as the

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Preface / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 62 (2013) 1–3

2 Preface / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 62 (2013) 1–3 Fig. 1. Schematic map of

Fig. 1. Schematic map of major geological structures in Lake Baikal region, which is arbitrary defined here as region bounded by the Mongolia–Okhotsk suture zone in the south, by Tuva-Mongolian massif in the west, Siberian Traps in the north and Chara rift basin in the east. The map is compiled from ( Zorin, 1999 ) and Russian geological maps.

compiled from ( Zorin, 1999 ) and Russian geological maps. Fig. 2. Primitive mantle ( McDonough

Fig. 2. Primitive mantle ( McDonough and Sun, 1995 ) normalized trace element diagram for Mesozoic and Cenozoic volcanic rocks in Dzhida area of the Lake Baikal region. Data are after Vorontsov et al. (2002), Gordienko et al. (2006), Barry et al. (2007), Andryushchenko (2010) and Andryushchenko et al. (2010) except Pb concentrations for Quaternary rocks, which are previously unpublished data.

scale, state of stress, heterogeneities, and interactions of faults in the Baikal rift, the strain and stress distribution through space and time, plus the forces responsible for the opening of the rift ( San’kov et al., 2009 ).

The aim of this volume is to introduce the international com- munity to the very exciting geology, tectonics and geodynamics of this unique part of the Earth.


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Barry, T.L., Ivanov, A.V., Rasskazov, S.V., Demonterova, E.I., Dunai, T.J., Davies, G.R., Harrison, D., 2007. Helium isotopes provide no evidence for deep mantle involvement in widespread Cenozoic volcanism across Central Asia. Lithos 95,


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Guest editors Alexei V. Ivanov Dmitry P. Gladkochub Institute of the Earth’s Crust, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Irkutsk, Russia

Jacques Déverchère Université de Brest (UBO), CNRS UMR 6538 Domaines Océaniques, Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer (OSU-IUEM), Brest, France

Richard E. Ernst Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

Ernst Geosciences, 43 Margrave Ave., Ottawa, Canada