Structure and tectonics along the inner edge of a foreland basin

The Hunter Coalfield in the northern Sydney Basin, New South Wales

R. A. Glen*, J. Beckett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


From the early Late Permian onwards, the northeastern part of the Sydney Basin, New South Wales, (encompassing the Hunter Coalfield) developed as a foreland basin to the rising New England Orogen lying to the east and northeast. Structurally, Permian rocks in the Hunter Coalfield lie in the frontal part of a foreland fold-thrust belt that propagated westwards from the adjacent New England Orogen. Thrust faults and folds are common in the inner part of the Sydney Basin. Small-scale thrusts are restricted to individual stratigraphie units (with a major 'upper décollement horizon' occurring in the mechanically weak Mulbring Siltstone), but major thrusts are inferred to sole into a floor thrust at a poorly constrained depth of approximately 3 km. Folds appear to have formed mainly as hangingwall anticlines above these splaying thrust faults. Other folds formed as flat-topped anticlines developed above ramps in that floor thrust, as intervening synclines ahead of such ramp anticlines, or as décollement folds. These contractional structures were overprinted by extensional faults developed during compressional deformation or afterwards during post-thrusting relaxation and/or subsequent extension. The southern part of the Hunter Coalfield (and the Newcastle Coalfield to the east) occupies a structural recess in the western margin of the New England Orogen and its offshore continuation, the Currarong Orogen. Rocks in this recess underwent a two-stage deformation history. West-northwest-trending stage one structures such as the southern part of the Hunter Thrust and the Hunter River Transverse Zone (a reactivated syndepositional transfer fault) developed in response to maximum regional compression from the east-northeast. These were followed by stage two folds and thrusts oriented north-south and developed from maximum compression oriented east-west. The Hunter Thrust itself was folded by these later folds, and the Hunter River Transverse Zone underwent strikeslip reactivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-877
Number of pages25
JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Foreland basin
  • Hunter coalfield
  • Permian, structure
  • Tectonics
  • Thrusts

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