Structure of the Texas Orocline beneath the sedimentary cover (southeast Queensland, Australia)
The New England Orogen in eastern Australia is characterised by orogenic-scale curvatures (oroclines). The largest and most prominent curvature in this system is the Texas Orocline, but its subsurface geometry is still poorly constrained. A large component of the orocline is covered by post-oroclinal sedimentary rocks, which obscure deeper sections of the orocline and make it difficult to understand how the structure is connected to other segments of the New England Orogen. Here, we present geophysical data that elucidate the structure of the Texas Orocline below the sedimentary cover. Using 2D seismic, aeromagnetic TMI (total magnetic intensity) and Bouguer gravity datasets, in combination with outcrop and well data, we identified the depth to the New England ‘basement’ and significant faults intersecting it. We also traced the strongly contorted subsurface continuation of the Peel-Yarrol Fault System, which is characterised by local gravity and magnetic anomalies associated with isolated serpentinite outcrops. Constraints on the timing of oroclinal bending were obtained from the interpretation of seismic transects, which showed that early Permian sedimentary rocks of the Bowen Basin were deposited in a subtrough that deviates from the general north–south trend of the Bowen Basin. The subtrough is oriented approximately parallel to the western limb of the Texas Orocline, thus suggesting that the orocline formed during and/or after early Permian rifting. Our analysis indicates that initial bending occurred contemporaneously with the development of the early Permian rift basins, most likely in the backarc region of a retreating subduction zone. Subsequently, phases of strike-slip and contractional deformation have further tightened the pre-existing curvatures.