The Songliao Basin is characterized by episodic rifting and intense volcanism during its early development, and forms a key concealed part of the Late Mesozoic magmatic province of NE China. Few precise geochronological and geochemical data were previously available for the volcanic elements of this basin, restricting understanding of its geodynamic setting and evolution. We present new SHRIMP U-Pb zircon ages and geochemical data for the volcanic rocks from the northern Songliao Basin, which limit this volcanism to the Early Cretaceous period (115-109 Ma). Although dominated by rhyolite, the rocks cover a wide compositional spectrum encompassing trachyandesite, basaltic trachyandesite, trachyte and dacite. This suite exhibits a range of geochemical signatures characteristic of subduction-related genesis, falling into a high-K calc-alkaline series, with enrichment in large ion lithophile elements (LILE) and light rare earth elements (LREE), and weak depletion in high field strength elements (HFSE) and heavy rare earth elements (HREE). The suite also shares a common isotopic composition, consistent with derivation from partial melting of a single depleted mantle source. This Early Cretaceous volcanism occurred in an extensional back-arc setting associated with the subduction of the Paleo-Pacific plate, large scale upwelling of the asthenosphere, and intensive lithospheric thinning of the eastern continental margin of NE China which may have lasted until ca. 109 Ma. (C) 2010 International Association for Gondwana Research. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.