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Type: Journal article
Title: Thermochronology of high heat-producing crust at Mount Painter, South Australia: Implications for tectonic reactivation of continental interiors
Author: McLaren, S.
Dunlap, W.
Sandiford, M.
McDougall, I.
Citation: Tectonics, 2002; 21(4):1-18
Publisher: Amer Geophysical Union
Issue Date: 2002
ISSN: 0278-7407
Abstract: The Mount Painter Region in the Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia, contains a Mesoproterozoic gneissic complex characterized by extraordinary heat production (∼16 μW m⁻³), resulting in the development of elevated middle-upper crustal thermal gradients through much of the Paleozoic. Early Paleozoic deformation and metamorphism attained amphibolite facies (>500°C) in the deepest parts of the metamorphic pile (∼10–12 km) during the ∼500 Ma Cambro-Ordovician Delamerian orogeny. The subsequent thermal history of these rocks is assessed through new K/Ar and ⁴⁰Ar/³⁹Ar age measurements on amphiboles and micas and multiple-diffusion-domain thermal modeling of K-feldspar ⁴⁰Ar/³⁹Ar data. The preferred interpretation of these data is that the deepest rocks were at ∼500°C until around 430 Ma, requiring average upper crustal thermal regimes of the order of 40°C km⁻¹ for at least 70 million years. At around 430 Ma, and again at 400 Ma, the terrane underwent periods of moderately fast cooling, possibly separated by a period of isothermal residence. Following cooling at 400 Ma, the terrane entered a second period of relative tectonic quiescence remaining essentially isothermal until ∼330 Ma. This long residence near the closure temperature of biotite resulted in variable argon loss from biotites in the 400 Ma to 330 Ma interval. Tectonic and thermal stability was terminated by a further period of moderately fast cooling (∼4°–8°C Ma⁻¹) in the interval between 330 and 320 Ma. The three cooling episodes at around 430 Ma, 400 Ma, and 330 Ma are interpreted to be the result of exhumation resulting in a combined minimum of 6–7 km of denudation. We attribute this exhumation to the Alice Springs orogeny, a major intraplate tectonothermal event known throughout central Australia but not previously recognized as a significant tectonic event in the Adelaide Fold Belt. These new data provide compelling evidence that thermally modulated variations in lithospheric strength control the distribution of intraplate deformation at the continental scale.
DOI: 10.1029/2000TC001275
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