Detrital zircon from the Carboniferous Girrakool Beds in the central Tablelands Complex of the southern New England Orogen, Australia, is dominated by ca 350–320 Ma grains with a peak at ca 330 Ma; there are very few Proterozoic or Archean grains. A maximum deposition age for the Girrakool Beds of ca 309 Ma is identified. These data overlap the age of the Carboniferous Keepit arc, a continental volcanic arc along the western margin of the Tamworth Belt. Zircon trace-element and isotopic compositions support petrographic evidence of a volcanic arc provenance for sedimentary and metasedimentary rocks of the central Tablelands Complex. Zircon Hf isotope data for ca 350–320 Ma detrital grains become less radiogenic over the 30 million-year record. This pattern is observed with maturation of continental volcanic arcs but is opposite to the longer-term pattern documented in extensional accretionary orogens, such as the New England Orogen. Volcanic activity in the Keepit arc is inferred to decrease rapidly at ca 320 Ma, based on a major change in the detrital zircon age distribution. Although subduction continues, this decrease is inferred to coincide with the onset of trench retreat, slab rollback and the eastward migration of the magmatic arc that led to the Late Carboniferous to early Permian period of extension, S-type granite production and intrusion into the forearc basin, high-temperature–low-pressure metamorphism, and development of rift basins such as the Sydney–Gunnedah–Bowen system.
- detrital zircon U–Pb–Hf–trace elements
- Wongwibinda Metamorphic Complex
- accretionary wedge
- New England Orogen
- Carboniferous Keepit arc evolution