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Nature of the continent -ocean transition zone along the southern Australian continental margin: a comparison of the Naturaliste Plateau, SW Australia, and the central Great Australian Bight sectors

posted on 2023-05-28, 01:35 authored by Nicholas DireenNicholas Direen, Borissova, I, Stagg, HMJ, Colwell, JB
We document the interpretation of three crustal sections from coincident deep seismic reflection, gravity and magnetic data acquired on Australia's southern margin: one section from the Naturaliste Plateau and the Diamantina Zone; and two in the Great Australian Bight (GAB). Interpretations are based on an integrated study of deep multichannel seismic, gravity and magnetic data, together with sparse sonobuoy and dredging information. All interpreted sections of the margin show a transition from thinned continental crust, through a wide continent ocean transition zone (COTZ). In the GAB the transition is to slow sea-floor spreading oceanic crust that dates from breakup in the Campanian (c. 83 Ma); in the Naturaliste - Diamantina margin the earliest oceanic crust is undated. The COTZ on these margins is geologically and geophysically complex, but interpretation of all data, including dredge hauls, is consistent with the presence of a mixture of modified continental lower crust, breakup related volcanics and exhumed continental mantle. Serpentinized detachment faults are not well imaged, but have been inferred from high-amplitude magnetic signatures interpreted to arise from magnetite associated with the hydration of peridotites. Alternative models for the structure of the COTZ, involving either mafic underplating or aborted sea-floor spreading, have been explored, but are considered unlikely on this margin. Similarity in the final architecture of these margins has major implications for the nature of rifting in the Southern Rift System, and may point to the entire 4000 km-long system being non-volcanic in character. Second-order differences in geometry and morphology of the two areas studied are unlikely to be a function of strain rate. Instead, they probably reflect complexities owing to the multiple tectonic events that occurred during final Gondwanide fragmentation. The most dramatic of these is the impact of hotspot activity in the Kerguelen Plateau, which commenced some 50 Ma prior to final breakup in that sector.


Publication title

Imaging, Mapping and Modelling Continental Lithosphere Extension and Breakup


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