Mapping undercover: integrated geoscientific interpretation and 3D modelling of a Proterozoic basin

Lindsay, Mark D.; Occhipinti, Sandra; Laflamme, Crystal; Aitken, Alan; Ramos, Lara

Gravity and 3D modelling combined with geochemical analysis examine the subsurface within and below the poorly exposed Palaeoproterozoic Yerrida Basin in central Western Australia. Understanding the structure of a region is important as key features indicating past geodynamic processes and tectonic activity can be revealed. However, in stable, post-depositional tectonic settings only the younger sedimentary units tend to be widely exposed, rendering direct observation of basement and intrusive rocks impossible. Geophysical imaging and modelling can reveal the structure of a region undercover. High-magnitude density anomalies around the basin cannot be reconciled with current geological knowledge in the case presented here. The gravity anomalies infer an abundance of buried and high-density material not indicated by the surface geology. A hypothetical causative source for the high-magnitude gravity anomalies is mafic rocks that were intruded and extruded during basin rifting. The simplest and plausible stratigraphic attribution of these interpreted mafic rocks is to the Killara Formation within the Mooloogool Group. However, geochemistry reveals that the Killara Formation is not the only host to mafic rocks within the region. The mafic rocks present in the Juderina Formation are largely ignored in descriptions of Yerrida Basin magmatism, and results indicate that they may be far more substantial than once thought. Sulfur isotopic data indicate no Archean signature to these mafic rocks, a somewhat surprising result given the basement to the basin is the Archean Yilgarn Craton. We propose the source of mafic rocks is vents located to the north along the Goodin Fault or under the Bryah sub-basin and Padbury Basin. The conclusion is that the formation of the Yerrida Basin involves a geodynamic history more complex than previously thought. This result highlights the value in geophysics and geochemistry in revealing the complexity of the earlier geodynamic evolution of the basin that may be indiscernible from surface geology but may have high importance for the tectonic development of the region and its mineral resources.

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Lindsay, Mark D. / Occhipinti, Sandra / Laflamme, Crystal / et al: Mapping undercover: integrated geoscientific interpretation and 3D modelling of a Proterozoic basin. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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