Tectonic controls on sediment provenance evolution in rift basins: Detrital zircon U–Pb and Hf isotope analysis from the Perth Basin, Western Australia
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The role of tectonics in controlling temporal and spatial variations in sediment provenance during the evolution of extensional basins from initial rifting to continental breakup and passive margin development are not well established. We test the influence of tectonics in a rift basin that has experienced minimal uplift but significant extension throughout its history: the Perth Basin, Western Australia. We use published zircon U–Pb and Hf isotope data from basin inception through to continental drift and complement this with new data from samples deposited synchronously with the continental breakup of eastern Gondwana. Three primary source regions are inferred, namely the Archean Yilgarn Craton to the east, the Paleo- and Mesoproterozoic Albany–Fraser–Wilkes Orogen to the south and east, and the Mesoproterozoic and Ediacaran–Cambrian Pinjarra Orogen underlying the rift basin and comprising the dominant crustal components to the west and southwest. From mid-Paleozoic basin inception to Early Cretaceous breakup of eastern Gondwana, drainage in the Perth Basin was primarily north- to northwest-directed as evidenced by the dominant Mesoproterozoic detrital zircon cargo, paleodrainage patterns and paleocurrent directions. Thus, provenance was primarily parallel to the rift axis and perpendicular to the extension direction, particularly during periods of thermal subsidence. During episodes of mechanical extension, detrital zircon ages are polymodal and consistently dominated by Paleo- and Mesoproterozoic grains derived from the Albany–Fraser–Wilkes Orogen, but with significant Archean and Neoproterozoic inputs from the rift margins. It is inferred that during mechanical extension the rate of subsidence exceeded sediment supply, which generated basin-margin scarps and enhanced direct input from the rift shoulders. Detrital zircon spectra from temporally-equivalent samples at the rift margin and in the rift axis reveal that distinct sedimentary routing operated on the flanks. In summary, sediment provenance in the Perth Basin (and probably other rift basins) is tectonically controlled by: (1) extension direction, (2) episodes of mechanical extension (rift) or thermal subsidence (post-rift), and (3) proximity to rift axis or rift margin.
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