Abstract

The Coral Sea Basin was probably formed by late Eocene to early Oligocene rotational spreading accompanied by large-scale subsidence of the basin's margins. An erosional unconformity, previously identified on seismic reflection records across the marginal Queensland Plateau, is dated as early Miocene and represents the initial marine transgression onto the basin's margin. Subsidence continued, accompanied by faulting which subdivided the margin into a series of four plateaus, generally bounded by one or more of the four submarine troughs. Subsidence rates averaged 17 to 24 cm/1000 yrs for the Coral Sea Basin since lower Miocene time. Thick terrigenous turbidite sequences derived from New Guinea were deposited in the Coral Sea Basin during the last glacial stage, but predominately calcareous pelagic sediments have accumulated since then. Holocene pelagic sedimentation rates are 3.6 cm/1000 yrs, whereas glacial Pleistocene rates are higher by at least a factor of four.

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