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Growth of wedge-shaped plutons at the base of active half-grabens

  • S. W. Richards (a1) and W. J. Collins (a2)

Combined field and geophysical data show that plutons from the Bega Batholith are elongate, meridional, wedge-shaped bodies which intruded during a period of regional east–west extension in the Palaeozoic eastern Lachlan orogen, eastern Australia. Plutons within the core of the batholith have intruded coeval, syn-rift sediments and co-magmatic volcanics. The batholith is bound by high-temperature, dip-slip faults, and contains several major NE-trending transtensional faults which were active during batholith construction. In the central part of the batholith, the Kameruka pluton is an asymmetric, eastward-thickening, wedge-shaped body with the base exposed as the western contact, which is characterised by abundant, shallow-dipping schlieren migmatites which contain recumbent folds and extensional shear bands. A shallow (<30°), east-dipping, primary magmatic layering in the Kameruka pluton steepens progressively westward, where it becomes conformable to the east-dipping basal migmatites. The systematic steepening of the layering is comparable to sedimentary units formed during floor depression in syn-rift settings. The present authors suggest that the wedge-shaped plutons of the Bega Batholith are the deeper, plutonic expression of a hot, active rift. The batholith was fed and sustained by injection of magma through sub-vertical dykes. Displacement along syn-magmatic, NE-trending faults suggests up to 25 km of arc-perpendicular extension during batholith construction. The inferred tectonic setting for batholith emplacement is a continental back-arc, where modern half-extension rates of 20–40 mm yr−1 are not unusual, and are sufficient to emplace the entire batholith in ∼1 Ma. This structural model provides a mechanism for the emplacement of some wedge-shaped plutons and is one solution to the ‘room problem’ of batholith emplace

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Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of The Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • ISSN: 1755-6910
  • EISSN: 1755-6929
  • URL: /core/journals/earth-and-environmental-science-transactions-of-royal-society-of-edinburgh
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