Unraveling the New England orocline, east Gondwana accretionary margin
The New England orocline lies within the Eastern Australian segment of the Terra Australis accretionary orogen and developed during the late Paleozoic to early Mesozoic Gondwanide Orogeny (310-230 Ma) that extended along the Pacific margin of the Gondwana supercontinent. The orocline deformed a pre-Permian arc assemblage consisting of a western magmatic arc, an adjoining forearc basin and an eastern subduction complex. The orocline is doubly vergent with the southern and northern segments displaying counter-clockwise and clockwise rotation, respectively, and this has led to contrasting models of formation. We resolve these conflicting models with one that involves buckling of the arc system about a vertical axis during progressive northward translation of the southern segment of the arc system against the northern segment, which is pinned relative to cratonic Gondwana. Paleomagnetic data are consistent with this model and show that an alternative model involving southward motion of the northern segment relative to the southern segment and cratonic Gondwana is not permissible. The timing of the final stage of orocline formation (∼270-265 Ma) overlaps with a major gap in magmatic activity along this segment of the Gondwana margin, suggesting that northward motion and orocline formation were driven by a change from orthogonal to oblique convergence and coupling between the Gondwana and Pacific plates. Copyright © 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.
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