Evolution of a reworked orogenic zone: the boundary between the Delamerian and Lachlan Fold Belts, southeastern Australia

John Miller, D. Phillips, C.J.L. Wilson, L.J. Dugdale

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    Ar-40/Ar-39 age data from the boundary between the Delamerian and Lachlan Fold Belts identify the Moornambool Metamorphic Complex as a Cambrian metamorphic belt in the western Stawell Zone of the Palaeozoic Tasmanide System of southeastern Australia. A reworked orogenic zone exists between the Lachlan and Delamerian Fold Belts that contains the eastern section of the Cambrian Delamerian Fold Belt and the western limit of orogenesis associated with the formation of an Ordovician to Silurian accretionary wedge (Lachlan Fold Belt). Delamerian thrusting is craton-verging and occurred at the same time as the final consolidation of Gondwana. Ar-40/Ar-39 age data indicate rapid cooling of the Moornambool Metamorphic Complex at about 500 Ma at a rate of 20-30 degrees C per million years, temporally associated with calc-alkaline volcanism followed by clastic sedimentation, Extension in the overriding plate of a subduction zone is interpreted to have exhumed the metamorphic rocks within the Moornambool Metamorphic Complex. The Delamerian system varies from a high geothermal gradient with syntectonic plutonism in the west to lower geothermal gradients in the east (no syntectonic plutonism). This metamorphic zonation is consistent with a west-dipping subduction zone. Contrary to some previous models involving a reversal in subduction polarity, the Ross and Delamerian systems of Antarctica and Australia are inferred to reflect deformation processes associated with a Cambrian subduction zone that dipped towards the Gondwana supercontinent. Western Lachlan Fold Belt orogenesis occurred about 40 million years after the Delamerian Orogeny and deformed older, colder, and denser oceanic crust, with metamorphism indicative of a low geothermal gradient. This orogenesis closed a marginal ocean basin by west-directed underthrusting of oceanic crust that produced an accretionary wedge with west-dipping faults that verge away from the major craton. The western Lachlan Fold Belt was not associated with arc-related volcanism and plutonism occurred 40-60 million years after initial deformation. The revised orogenic boundaries have implications for the location of world-class 440 Ma orogenic gold deposits, The structural complexity of the 440 Ma Stowell gold deposit reflects its location in a reworked part of the Cambrian Delamerian Fold Belt, while the structurally simpler 440 Ma Bendigo deposit is hosted by younger Ordovician turbidites solely deformed by Lachlan orogenesis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)921-940
    JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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