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1 June 2011


Comparative evolution of past and present accretionary orogens: Central Asia and the Circum-Pacific

Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China
4–10 September 2011


Alfred Kröner
Beijing SHRIMP Center, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing, China, and Institut für Geowissenschaften, Universität Mainz, Germany,
Robert J. Stern
Geosciences Dept., University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas, USA,
Bor-Ming Jahn
Dept. of Geosciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan,
Wenjiao Xiao
State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Institute of Geology & Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China,
Lifei Zhang
Dept. of Earth & Space Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China,
Robert Hall
SE Asia Research Group, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, UK,
Alexander Kotov
Institute of Precambrian Geology and Geochronology, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia,
Reimar Seltmann
Center for Russian and Central EurAsian Mineral Studies (CERCAMS), Dept. of Mineralogy, Natural History Museum, London, UK,

Organizing Committee:

Qingchen Wang (Chairman) and Wei Lin (Secretary)
both at Institute of Geology & Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing. Contacts and correspondence to Wei Lin, .
Description and Objectives
Kyrgyz Tianshan
Panorama of southern Kyrgyz Tianshan. Photo by Alfred Kröner, taken near town of Atbashi, Kyrgyzstan. The hilly terrain in the middle ground includes an ophiolitic mélange with blocks of ca. 317 Ma eclogite, marking the suture between the southern and middle Tianshan and extending into northwestern China. The snow-capped range is the Atbashi Ridge, with highest peaks from left to right at 4786 m and 4757 m.

The Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB, also known as Altaids) is one of the largest accretionary orogens on Earth and evolved over some 800 million years, from the latest Mesoproterozoic to the early Triassic. It contains a record of geodynamic processes during major Phanerozoic continental growth. There has been much discussion about its evolution over the last 20 years, and models range from a single, giant arc system to accretion of multiple arc–backarc systems. The CAOB crust appears to comprise long chains of arcs and slices of older continental crust that extend for several hundreds to thousands of kilometers. Amalgamation of these linear crustal elements and their interactions with continental margins generated considerable Phanerozoic continental growth. Its large size, from the Pacific to the Urals, and its extent across many countries and language barriers has complicated orogen-wide comparisons and correlations. Current tectonic models are largely speculative, but most see analogues with modern accretionary orogens. In view of the discovery of world-class mineral deposits, a wealth of new age and isotopic data, and much improved possibilities for international cooperation, it is now timely to discuss and compare the formation of the CAOB with that of modern accretionary orogens, such as the multiple arc terranes of the circum-Pacific in Indonesia, Melanesia, Taiwan, Japan, Alaska, and California. Such a multidisciplinary, in-depth comparison will spur research and stimulate thinking about the CAOB tectonomagmatic evolution, new concepts for accretionary orogeny in general, and new strategies for finding mineral deposits. This meeting will thus provide a unique forum to discuss what is known about the CAOB within the context of the archetypal accretionary orogens and, at the same time, bring together Asian, Russian, and Western geoscientists.

Following overview talks on the circum-Pacific orogens and components of the CAOB, key speakers will address the issue of accretionary orogeny from the viewpoint of different expertise and methodologies. These will be discussed, and shown on posters, with all participants during a three-day field trip across the Chinese Tianshan orogen in NW China and a subsequent three-day meeting in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Emphasis will be on process-oriented comparisons between ongoing orogeny in the circum-Pacific region and geological observations in the CAOB. We do not think that there is a single, coherent model to explain the evolution of the vast accretionary terrane of Central Asia, but this conference should lead to a clearer path of research and potential avenues of international collaboration. We particularly encourage the participation of young scientists from Asian countries.


Day 1, Sunday, 4 Sept.: Arrival in Urumqi. Opening session in the late afternoon, followed by introductory talks on the Chinese Tianshan after dinner.

Day 2, Monday, 5 Sept.: Field trip across the Chinese Tianshan from Urumqi to Toksun. Evening talks and discussions on geology of the Tianshan.

Day 3, Tuesday, 6 Sept.: Field trip across the Chinese Tianshan from Toksun to Korla. Evening talks and discussions on geology of the Tianshan and other components of the CAOB.

Day 4, Wednesday, 7 Sept.: Return to Urumqi; optional stops en route.

Day 5, Thursday, 8 Sept.: Discussion session, led by conveners and key speakers, with emphasis on overview talks. Discussions will be supported by poster presentations, with adequate time for discussion. Evening session after dinner.

Day 6, Friday, 9 Sept.: Discussion session, led by conveners and key speakers, with thematic sessions and group discussions and supported by poster presentations. Evening session after dinner.

Day 7, Saturday, 10 Sept.: Provocative discussion session on tectonic models, research methodologies, etc., led by conveners and key speakers: What needs to be done in Central Asia and what can we learn from the comparison with the circum-Pacific?

Day 8, Sunday, 11 Sept.: Participants depart Urumqi or participate in seven-day post-conference field trip to the Chinese Altai (not part of the Penrose Conference).


The conference will be organized by the Center for International Scientific Exchanges of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing; the Centre will issue invitation letters to foreign participants, which must accompany the Chinese visa applications. Participants should arrive in Urumqi on 4 Sept. 2011 and are responsible for their own travel arrangements. Urumqi can be reached by air from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Almaty, Bishkek, and Novosibirsk. Additional details will be provided in the registration material.

The registration fee of US$450 (registered students: US$200) will cover hotel lodging (double room occupancy) from 4 to 11 Sept., all meals, a guidebook, and transportation in the field. All meals will be taken together. Single rooms will incur an additional charge.

A seven-day post-conference field trip (including a one-day seminar) across the Chinese Altai will be organized by Prof. Min Sun of Hong Kong University. The trip begins in Urumqi on 11 Sept. and ends there on 17 Sept. The fee is ~US$700.


Deadline: 1 June 2011

Interested persons should send a letter of application by e-mail to Alfred Kröner at . This letter should include a brief statement about your research interests and the relevance of those interests to the focus of the conference, the topic you would like to present, and whether you are interested in submitting a manuscript for a potential GSA publication. Students should also submit a recommendation from their thesis supervisor.

Participants interested in joining the seven-day post-conference field trip to the Chinese Altai should contact Prof. Min Sun of Hong Kong University at . All matters concerning visa, travel, accommodation, etc., should be addressed to Mrs. Cuiling Lan, Center for International Scientific Exchanges, Chinese Academy of Sciences, at .

Policy on Non-Registered Spouses and Friends

We appreciate your cooperation in not bringing family members or non-registered friends to the meeting for two reasons: (1) most of us will be sharing rooms with other participants; and (2) the GSA rules for Penrose meetings do not allow this practice since it tends to distract participants from the science program and field trip. If you have family or friends coming after the meeting, please ask them to arrive no earlier than the morning of Sunday, 11 Sept. 2011.