Publication Details

Henderson, R. A. & Fergusson, C. L. (2019). Growth and provenance of a Paleozoic subduction complex in the Broken River Province, Mossman Orogen: evidence from detrital zircon ages. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, Online First 1-18.


A Paleozoic subduction complex dominates the Mossman Orogen developed at the northern extremity of the Tasmanides, eastern Australia. Its southern part, displayed in the Broken River Province, is characterised by dismembered ocean-plate stratigraphy in which turbidite-dominated packages and widespread tectonic mélange development are characteristic. The Broken River complex is characterised by formations with quartzose sandstone alternating with those largely formed of sandstone of more labile character. The two compositional groups are considered to reflect separate, age-significant sedimentary regimes, but their ages have hitherto been poorly constrained. With the use of 1082 concordant detrital zircon ages from 13 samples we provide age control for the complex and track its sedimentary provenance. Of quartzose units, the Tribute Hills Arenite and Pelican Range Formation are late Cambrian-Early Ordovician, and the Wairuna Formation is Middle to Late Ordovician, in age. The more labile units (Greenvale, Perry Creek and Kangaroo Hills formations) are collectively of late Silurian-mid-Devonian age. Development of the complex spanned some 130 Myr. Continent-derived sediment involved in accretion of much the complex, from mid-Ordovician to mid-Devonian, was largely sourced from a nearby magmatic arc of late Cambrian-Devonian age, now represented by granitoid plutons of the Macrossan and Pama igneous associations. An older far-field Pacific-Gondwana sediment source is characteristic of early-phase (late Cambrian-Early Ordovician) accretion, in common with sedimentary units of this age generally developed in the Tasmanides. We consider the complex to have grown largely by underplating that positioned younger components beneath those that are older, with out-of-sequence thrust interleaving of these components occurring late in the accretionary history. A Late Devonian contractional folding and cleavage development (Tabberabberan orogenesis) is uniformly expressed across the entire complex and reflects an abrupt change in plate engagement with imposition of a compressional stress regime.



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