Dating thin zircon rims by NanoSIMS: The Fengtien nephrite (Taiwan) is the youngest jade on Earth

Tzen Fu Yui, Tadashi Usuki, Chun Yen Chen, Akizumi Ishida, Yuji Sano, Kenshi Suga, Yoshiyuki Iizuka, Chih Tung Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Nephrite in the Fengtien area of the eastern part of the Central Mountain Range, Taiwan, is associated with antigorite-serpentinite within the Yuli belt, a late Cenozoic subduction-accretionary complex related to the eastward subduction of the South China Sea plate forming the Luzon arc. Diopsidite and clinozoisite rock are two other metasomatic components accompanying nephrite between serpentinites and the greenschist-facies country rock (carbonaceous material-)quartz-mica schist. Detrital zircons were separated from one clinozoisite rock sample, formed through metasomatic replacement after mica-quartz schist at temperatures of 320-420°C or slightly lower, which is lower than the metamorphic temperature conditions of the Yuli belt. Most of the detrital zircons have thin zircon rims less than 15-20 m wide. These zircon rims, considered as newly formed during metasomatism leading to nephrite/diopsidite/clinozoisite rock formation, were dated by a high lateral resolution secondary ion mass spectrometer (CAMECA NanoSIMS NS50). The resulting 238U/206Pb-204Pb/206Pb inverse isochron gave an age of 3.3 ± 1.7 Ma. The collision of the Eurasian continental margin with the Luzon arc has been suggested to have begun at ca. 6.5 Ma in the Taiwan area. The nephrite formation processes therefore clearly post-dated South China Sea plate subduction. The present date, substantiated by the metamorphic and metasomatic temperature information, demonstrates that the fluid-rock interaction forming Fengtien nephrite would have taken place during a Barrovian-type metamorphic overprint resulting from arc-continent collision, leading to the exhumation of the Yuli belt. This conclusion on nephrite formation with regard to regional tectonics can serve as a working model for future studies on other nephrite deposits with similar occurrences, mostly embedded within Mesozoic or older subduction-accretionary complexes. The Fengtien nephrite deposit is therefore the youngest one of its kind exposed on Earths surface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1932-1944
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Geology Review
Issue number16
StatePublished - 10 Dec 2014


  • NanoSIMS
  • Taiwan
  • U-Pb dating
  • nephrite
  • zircon


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