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The stratigraphic record of volcanic arcs provides insights into their eruptive history, the formation of associated basins, and the character of the deep crust beneath them. Indian Ocean lithosphere was subducted continuously beneath Java from ca. 45 Ma, resulting in formation of a volcanic arc, although volcanic activity was not continuous for all of this period. The lower Cenozoic stratigraphic record on land in East Java provides an excellent opportunity to examine the complete eruptive history of a young, well-preserved volcanic arc from initiation to termination. The Southern Mountains Arc in Java was active from the middle Eocene (ca. 45 Ma) to the early Miocene (ca. 20 Ma), and its activity included significant acidic volcanism that was overlooked in previous studies of the area. In particular, quartz sandstones, previously considered to be terrigenous clastic sedimentary rocks derived from continental crust, are now known to be of volcanic origin. These deposits form part of the fill of the Kendeng Basin, a deep flexural basin that formed in the backarc area, north of the arc. Dating of zircons in the arc rocks indicates that the acidic character of the volcanism can be related to contamination of magmas by a fragment of Archean to Cambrian continental crust that lay beneath the arc. Activity in the Southern Mountains Arc ended in the early Miocene (ca. 20 Ma) with a phase of intense eruptions, including the Semilir event, which distributed ash over a wide area. Following the cessation of the early Cenozoic arc volcanism, there followed a period of volcanic quiescence. Subsequently arc volcanism resumed in the late Miocene (ca. 12–10 Ma) in the modern Sunda Arc, the axis of which lies 50 km north of the older arc.

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