Paleozoic ophiolitic assemblages within the southern New England orogen of eastern Australia: Implications for growth of the Gondwana margin

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Several ophiolitic assemblages occur in the southern New England orogen. The development of these rocks and their relations to the rest of the orogen have major implications for the tectonic evolution of eastern Gondwana. A major, narrow but elongate belt of Early Cambrian suprasubduction zone ophiolite crops out along and near the PeelManning Fault System and is juxtaposed against younger arc and subduction complex terranes. No pre-Permian links with the rest of the New England orogen have been established for this terrane. It may represent portions of Lachlan Fold Belt basement which underlies younger, westward overthrust New England terranes, and has been diapirically emplaced at higher crustal levels as serpentinite-matrix melange. Middle to Late Devonian ophiolitic rocks in the Yarras Complex comprise basement to the Birpai subterrane and represent a crustal cross section through a rifted island arc. Correlatives of this terrane also occur within the more extensive Gamilaroi terrane to the west of which deeper crustal levels are not exposed. The various components of serpentinite-matrix melange in the Ngamba terrane at Port Macquarie superficially appear to represent a dismembered ophiolite association. However, the various components of the melange exhibit a wide range of ages, metamorphism, and tectonic affinities, rendering a genetically related origin unlikely. This terrane includes fragments of ocean floor accreted into a Late Devonian subduction complex, which was later affected by Early Carboniferous forearc serpentinite diapirism and high Mg series magmatism. Zircon inheritance in Triassic dikes, which intrude the melange attest to the development or later emplacement of this forearc region over an older Lachlan Fold Belt basement. Ultramafic rocks of the Bundjalung terrane in the east of the New England region probably formed at deep levels in an intraoceanic island arc and are intruded by boninitic dikes. The tectonic development of the NEO was significantly more complicated than has been suggested in earlier published models. Periodic accretion of island arc systems, some of which are now represented by suprasubduction zone ophiolites, to the eastern margin of Gondwana suggests multiple phases of subduction with the possibility of polarity reversals throughout the history of accretion. Lateral accretion was not the only means by which Gondwana continental crust grew, and there was considerable postaccretion continentward overthrusting of younger terranes.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Paleozoic ophiolitic assemblages within the southern New England orogen of eastern Australia: Implications for growth of the Gondwana margin
Series title Tectonics
DOI 10.1029/93TC03550
Volume 13
Issue 5
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 1135
Last page 1149
Country Australia
State New South Wales
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