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Abstract

The Capel and Faust basins (northern Lord Howe Rise) are located in the SW Pacific between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. New seismic, gravity, magnetic and bathymetry data and rock samples have enabled the construction of a three-dimensional geological model providing insights into the crustal architecture and basin stratigraphy. Multiple large depocentres up to 150 km long and 40 km wide, containing over 6 km of sediment, have been identified. These basins probably evolved through two major Early Cretaceous rifting episodes leading to the final break-up of the eastern Gondwanan margin. Pre-break-up plate restorations and potential field data suggest that pre-rift basement is a collage of several discrete terranes, including a Palaeozoic orogen, pre-rift sedimentary basins and rift-precursor igneous rocks. It is likely that a pre-existing NW-trending basement fabric, inherited from the New England Orogen (onshore eastern Australia), had a strong influence on the evolution of basin architecture. This basement fabric was subjected to oblique rifting along an east–west vector in the ?Early Cretaceous to Cenomanian and NE–SW-oriented orthogonal rifting in the ?Cenomanian to Campanian. This has resulted in three structural provinces in the study area: Eastern Flank, Central Belt and Western Flank.

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