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Abstract

Zircon U-Pb ages measured with the SHRIMP ion microprobe have been used to date volcanic horizons associated with Early Carboniferous sediments of the Southern New England Orogen in eastern Australia. These results calibrate the numerical ages of eastern Australian biozones, including the four Early Carboniferous brachiopod zones between the Schellwienella burlingtonensis and Rhipidomella fortimuscula Zones, which include cosmopolitan faunas and so also constrain ages for European and international substages of the Carboniferous System. Refinements to the Early Carboniferous timescale include the ages of the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary, the Tournaisian-Viséan boundary, and correlation with the Holkerian Stage of Britain. New biostratigraphic correlations and ages constrain the associations of the Granulatisporites frustulensis Microflora and Grandispora maculosa Assemblage and indicate that the Nothorhacopteris flora, previously thought to be confined to Late Carboniferous units, ranges down into the upper Viséan Series (V3a). The zircon ages delimit the durations of the major volcanic events within the Southern New England Orogen and the time significance of depositional hiatuses within the stratigraphic succession, and revise correlations and the associated Viséan palaeogeography of eastern Australia.

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