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New Ideas on Gippsland Basin Regional Tectonics


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Author Willcox J B, Colwell J B, Constantine A E


A unique, regional grid of deep (12 – 14 second record length), seismic reflection and refraction data has been recorded by the Australian Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR) across the offshore Gippsland Basin and parts of the adjacent Bass Basin, in southeastern Australia. These data have been combined with onshore mapping to produce a new model for the development of the Gippsland and adjacent Bass Strait basins. Overall, the Gippsland Basin contains up to 12 – 14 km of sediment in an ESE-trending depocentre bounded on its north and northwestern margins by a detachment ramp, and on its southern side by a relatively linear, listric fault system. The basin, together with the adjacent Bass and Otway Basins, appears to have formed as part of a linked, largely- strike-slip to ‘transtensional’ system, which started to extend through Bass Strait, probably during the latest Jurassic. Each of the basins developed by movement on a common detachment or detachment complex, which produced headwall extension at their western ends, in the areas now occupied by the Strzelecki Ranges, Otway Ranges – Torquay Sub-basin, and Robe Trough. Adjustments and reactivation from the mid Cretaceous of several postulated microplates in the region, largely in response to Tasman Basin rifting, gave rise to the wrench-related and compressional structures which form the major petroleum targets in the Gippsland Basin. However, the same process formed largely extensional stuctures in the Bass Basin. Our interpretation of the tectonic history of the Gippsland Basin leads us to the conclusion that there may have been several phases of petroleum generation and migration, and that potential petroleum traps appear to exist in the deeper section, in structures sometimes not reflected at the top or near-top Latrobe Group levels.