Nature of the continent-ocean transition on the non-volcanic rifted margin of the central Great Australian Bight
Jacques Sayers, Philip A. Symonds, Nicholas G. Direen, George Bernardel, 2001. "Nature of the continent-ocean transition on the non-volcanic rifted margin of the central Great Australian Bight", Non-Volcanic Rifting of Continental Margins: A Comparison of Evidence from Land and Sea, R. C. L. Wilson, R. B. Whitmarsh, B. Taylor, N. Froitzheim
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A region of 50-120 km width defines the continent-ocean transition (COT) in the central Great Australian Bight. It is characterized by a thin apron of post-break-up sediments overlying complexly deformed sediments and intruded crust bounded landward by a basement ridge complex and oceanward by rough oceanic basement. Recently acquired deep reflection and refraction seismic data have significantly enhanced understanding of the COT and basement ridge. Modelled gravity and magnetic data, and features interpreted from seismic data, are consistent with aspects of extensional and break-up models proposed for the West Iberia margin. Many of the features and relationships observed beneath the outer margin of the central Great Australian Bight can be explained by extension within a lithosphere-scale ‘pure-shear’ environment involving four layers: brittle upper crust and upper mantle, and ductile lower crust and lower lithospheric mantle. The COT is interpreted to be underlain by extended continental lithosphere. Thus, the continent-ocean boundary is unequivocally defined between oceanic crust and the COT and appears to be associated with sea-floor spreading magnetic anomaly 33, indicating that break-up and sea-floor spreading did not commence until c. 83 Ma (early Campanian time), later than the currently accepted 95 Ma age. The major part of the basement ridge complex is probably a combination of serpentinized peridotites and mafic intrusions or extrusions derived by mantle upwelling and limited partial melting. The magmatic products of this process probably cooled during chron 34 producing a distinctive magnetic anomaly, but one that does not relate to break-up and sea-floor spreading.
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Non-volcanic continental margins may form up to 30% all present-day passive margins, and remnants of them are preserved in mountain belts. The papers in this volume demonstrate the benefits of integrating offshore and onshore studies, and illustrate the range of information obtained at different scales when comparing evidence from land and sea. Data sets collected across a range of spatial scales are evaluated: thin sections, cores, outcrops, seismic reflection profiles, and other geophysical data. The outcrop scale is crucial because it enables the spatial gulf to be bridged between DSDP and ODP cores and marine seismic data. There is also the problem that basins on land and beneath the sea inevitably have had different post-rift histories resulting in their contrasting present-day elevation. In mountain belts, portions of continental margins and oceanic crust are superbly exposed, but dismembered by subsequent compressional tectonics. Off present-day passive margins, extensional features have only been slightly deformed, if at all, by compressional movements, but are buried beneath significant thicknesses of post-rift sediments and so can only be sampled by ocean drilling at a small number of points.
The first paper reviews the synergies that have occurred between investigations of the eastern North Atlantic non-volcanic margins and remnants of similar Mesozoic margins preserved in the Alps, and some later papers return to this theme. However, papers describing margins from other parts of the world show that it may be premature to use models based on the Atlantic and the Alps as the paradigm for all non-volcanic margins. The following 25 papers in the book are grouped under the following headings: (1) Margin overviews; (2) Exhumed crust and mantle; (3) Tectonics and stratigraphy; (4)Numerical models of extension and magmatism.