Pan-Gondwanaland detrital zircons from Australia analysed for Hf-isotopes and trace elements reflect an ice-covered Antarctic provenance of 700-500 Ma age, TDM of 2.0-1.0 Ga, and alkaline affinity

J. J. Veevers*, E. A. Belousova, A. Saeed, K. Sircombe, A. F. Cooper, S. E. Read

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    107 Citations (Scopus)


    Eastern Australian sediments of Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian-Devonian, Triassic, and Neogene ages are known to be dominated by zircons dated 700-500 Ma ("Southwest Pacific-Gondwana igneous component") by the U-Pb SHRIMP method, and thought to be derived from Antarctica, as suggested also by paleogeographical evidence. To extend the characteristics of the provenance we subjected SHRIMPed zircons from the Middle Triassic Hawkesbury Sandstone and four Neogene beach sands to LAM-ICPMS analysis for rock type and Hf-isotope TDM model ages. These data confirm the demonstration (from ages alone) that the beach sands were recycled from the Hawkesbury Sandstone. All five samples have a substantial fraction of 700-500 Ma zircons derived from alkaline rocks with TDM of 2.0-1.0 Ga. We analysed zircons from the nearest exposed alkaline rock of appropriate age in Antarctica: the 550-500 Ma Koettlitz Glacier Alkaline Province of the Ross orogen of the Transantarctic Mountains, emplaced during contemporary transtension. The rock types and TDM of the Koettlitz Glacier Alkaline Province zircons match those of the eastern Australian samples but only over the restricted range of 550-500 Ma. Rocks of 700-550 Ma age and alkaline type are unknown in Antarctic exposures. Rocks of this age and type, however, abound in the Pan-Gondwanaland orogens. The nearest of these is the Leeuwin Complex of the Pinjarra orogen of southwestern Australia, which connects through the Prydz-Leeuwin Belt with the Mozambique Orogenic Belt. In turn, the Leeuwin Complex is dominated by 700-500 Ma alkaline rocks generated by contemporary transtension. We find that zircons from a beach sand at Eneabba, 450 km north of the Leeuwin Complex, are dominated by alkaline types, so confirming demonstration by age alone that the sand came from the Leeuwin Complex. An important inference is that Pan-Gondwanaland terranes are potential provenances of sediment with zircons of ages 700-500 Ma, model ages 2.0-1.0 Ga, and alkaline affinity. We compiled the age spectra of our samples with others of the Southwest Pacific-Gondwana igneous component in southern Australia and reviewed their paleogeographical data. The Early Cambrian turbidites of the Kanmantoo Group were deposited from an axial northward paleocurrent that flowed across adjacent Antarctica in Wilkes Land. The Ordovician turbidite was deposited in fore-arc and abyssal fans likewise from a northward paleocurrent that flowed parallel to the uplifted Ross-Delamerian orogen. The Ordovician-Silurian-Devonian Mathinna Supergroup was deposited in a submarine fan system that prograded to the east-northeast from high ground in Antarctica. The Hawkesbury Sandstone was deposited in a braided-river system on a surface that sloped to the north-northeast from high ground in Antarctica. Together with the zircon data, the paleogeographical evidence in the Cambrian, Ordovician, Ordovician-Silurian-Devonian, and Triassic all point to a provenance in Wilkes Land, Antarctica of Pan-Gondwanaland (700-500 Ma) terranes with alkaline rocks.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-174
    Number of pages40
    JournalEarth-Science Reviews
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006


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