Geodynamics of continental plate collision during late tertiary foreland basin evolution in the Timor Sea: Constraints from foreland sequences, elastic flexure and normal faulting

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Tectonic subsidence of the Australian lithosphere during the Late Tertiary propagates from the southwest to the northeast in the Timor Sea, as a consequence of the oblique collision between the Eurasian and Australian plates. We reconstruct the asynchronous nature of deflection of the Australian plate created during the plate convergence by best-matching the geometry of de-compacted foreland strata against the predictions of simple bending elastic beam models. We infer a maximum subsidence of 3500 m and a maximum width for the basin of ∼470 km. The effective elastic thickness of the Australian lithosphere (∼80 to 100 km) does not change significantly during basin evolution. The low curvature imposed on the plate (∼5.1×10-8 m-1) during bending is too small to weaken the plate. Yet, abundant but small-slip, normal faulting related to bending implies some degree of inelastic yielding. The polarity of fault propagation supports the oblique nature of the collision. Flexural models indicate that at least 570 km of Australian plate (mostly areas of stretched continental crust) was flexed, primarily by the tectonic loading of the Timor Island and that the total amount of subducted plate was at least 100 km during basin evolution. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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