The eastern margin of Australia is understood to be the result of continental rifting during the Cretaceous and Tertiary. Consistent with this model, Cretaceous igneous rocks (granites to basalts) in a continental marginal setting near Bowen, Queensland are isotonically retarded, having isotopic ratios similar to those of most island arcs (Sri = 0.7030-0.7039, ??Nd = +6.46 to +3.00 and 206Pb/204Pb = 18.44-18.77, 207Pb/204Pb = 15.552-15.623, and 208Pb/204Pb = 37.90-38.52). These isotopic signatures are much less evolved than the Late Carboniferous-Permian batholith that many Cretaceous plutons intrude. As rocks ranging in age from about 300-100 Ma are well exposed near Bowen, we can track magma evolution through time. The significant change of magma source occurred much earlier than the Cretaceous based on the fact that Triassic granites in the same area are also isotonically primitive. We attribute the changes of magma composition to crustal rifting during the Late Permian and earliest Triassic. The Cretaceous rocks (actually latest Jurassic to Cretaceous, 145-98 Ma) themselves show compositional trends with time. Rocks of appropriate mineralogy for Al-in-hornblende geobarometry yield pressures ranging from 250 to 80 MPa for rocks ranging in age from 145 to 125 Ma, respectively. More significantly, this older group is relatively compositionally restricted, and is Sr-rich, and Y- and Zr-poor compared to 120-98 Ma rocks. This younger groups is bimodal, being comprised principally of basalts and rhyolites (granites). REE patterns for a given rock type, however, do not differ with age tribute these relatively subtle trace element differences to small differences in conditions (T, aH2O) at the site of melting. Cretaceous crustal rifting can explain the range of rock types and the spatial distribution of rocks < 120 Ma in a longitudinal strip between and overlapping with provinces of older Cretaceous intrusions. A subduction-related setting is assigned to the 145-125 Ma igneous rocks (those more than 50 Ma older than sea floor spreading). ?? 1997 Elsevier Science B.V.
Additional publication details
Late Paleozoic crustal history of central coastal Queensland interpreted from geochemistry of Mesozoic plutons: The effects of continental rifting