Detrital zircon U-Pb age and Hf isotope studies are useful for identifying the chemical evolution of the continental crust. Zircon, however, is typically a magmatic mineral and thus often fails to document the timing of low-grade metamorphism, and its survival through multiple sedimentary cycles potentially biases the crustal evolution record toward older events. In contrast, monazite typically records metamorphic events and is less likely to survive sedimentary recycling processes, thus providing information not available by zircon. Here, we demonstrate that monazite apparently faithfully records the Sm-Nd isotope composition of the bulk rock and can therefore track the record of crustal evolution and growth, similar to Hf isotopes in zircon. We examine the utility of detrital zircon and monazite for studies of crustal evolution through a comparison of age and tracer isotope information using sediments from two large rivers draining the South China block (SCB). Monazite and zircon grains yield mostly Mesozoic and Paleozoic U-Pb ages and depleted mantle model age peaks at ca. 1900–1300 Ma, indicating that both minerals preserve similar, yet critical, information on the crustal evolution of the catchment area. In contrast, zircon yields abundant Neoproterozoic and older U-Pb ages with a very large spread of model ages, preserving a history strongly skewed to older ages. Based on the lack of known rocks of this age in the catchments, ancient zircon was likely sourced from sedimentary rocks within the catchment area. This combined data set presents a more complete history of crustal evolution and growth in the SCB and demonstrates the advantages of an integrated approach that includes both detrital monazite and zircon.
- Received 9 October 2015.
- Revision received 23 October 2016.
- Accepted 25 October 2016.
- © 2016 Geological Society of America