Variations in Zircon Provenance Constrain Age and Geometry of an Early Paleozoic Rift in the Pinjarra Orogen, East Gondwana

V. Markwitz, C. L. Kirkland, K. H. Wyrwoll, E. A. Hancock, N. J. Evans, Y. Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The Tumblagooda Sandstone in Western Australia documents Early Paleozoic rifting in East Gondwana and provides the earliest evidence for terrestrial activity of multicellular animals on Earth. We constrain the provenance of this sequence using 737 concordant U–Pb ages of detrital zircons from two stratigraphic wells in the northern Perth Basin and Southern Carnarvon Basin and outcrops of the type sections near Kalbarri. Detrital zircon age signatures are linked to infrared spectral data and stratigraphic logs. These ages span 3,312–466 Ma, including major Precambrian age peaks at 1,079–1,544 Ma, 1,695–2,403 Ma, and 2,640–2,879 Ma, consistent with igneous sources in the West Australian Craton. Significant Early Paleozoic age peaks at 499–541 Ma suggest a North Indian Orogen source. The maximum depositional age is constrained by the youngest detrital zircon, which yields an age of 466 ± 8 Ma. Our age constraints imply that terrestrial activity of multicellular animals on Earth may not be older than Middle Ordovician (Darriwilian). Rifting resulted in the exposure of the Yilgarn Craton and the segmentation of the Pinjarra Orogen. The Northampton Complex segment of the Pinjarra Orogen constituted a basement high that separated subbasins during the onset of rifting. Discordant Archean zircons provide a consistent record of radiogenic Pb loss at ~470 Ma, which we interpret as being related to the denudation of the Yilgarn Craton. The Pb loss event suggests that intracratonic rifting in the Pinjarra Orogen was initiated in the Middle Ordovician, after the Kuunga Orogeny completed the final amalgamation of Gondwana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2477-2496
Number of pages20
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


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