The timing of subduction is a fundamental tectonic problem for tectonic models, yet there are few direct geological proxies for constraining it. However, the matrix of a tectonic mélange formed in a subduction-accretion setting archives the physical/chemical attributes at the time of deformation during the subduction-accretion process. Thus, the deformation age of the matrix offers the possibility to directly constrain the period of the subduction-accretion process. Here we date the Lubok Antu tectonic mélange and the overlying Lupar Formation in West Sarawak, Borneo by K-Ar analysis of illite. The ages of authigenic illite cluster around 60 Ma and 36 Ma. The maximum temperatures calculated by vitrinite reflectance values suggest that our dating results were not affected by external heating. Thus, the ages of authigenic illite represent the deformation age of the mélange matrix and the timing of the Rajang Unconformity, indicating that the subduction in Sarawak could have continued until ca. 60 Ma and the thermal and/or fluid flow events triggered by a major uplift of the Rajang Group occurred at ca. 36 Ma. Furthermore, this study highlights the potential of using the tectonic mélange to extract the timeframe of subduction zone episodic evolution directly.

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