The mechanisms of continental growth are a crucial part of plate tectonic theory, yet a clear understanding of the processes involved remains elusive. Here we determine seismic Rayleigh wave phase anisotropy variations in the crust beneath the southern Tasmanides of Australia, a Paleozoic accretionary margin. Our results reveal a complex, thick-skinned pervasive deformation that was driven by the tectonic interaction between the proto-Pacific Ocean and the ancient eastern margin of Gondwana. Stress-induced effects triggered by the collision and entrainment of a microcontinent into the active subduction zone are evident in the anisotropy signature. The paleofracturing trend of failed rifting between Australia and Antarctica is also recorded in the anisotropy pattern as well as a tightly curved feature in central Tasmania. The observed patterns of anisotropy correlate well with recent geodynamic and kinematic models of the Tasmanides and provide a platform from which the spatial extent of deformational domains can be refined.
We thank Mallory Young for providing phase velocity measurements in mainland Australia and Tasmania. Robert Musgrave is thanked for making available his tilt-filtered magnetic intensity map. In the short term, data may be made available by contacting the authors (S.P. or N.R.). A new database of passive seismic data recorded in Australia is planned as part of a national geophysics data facility for easy access download. Details on the status of this database may be obtained from the authors (S.P., N.R., or A.M.R.). There are no restrictions on access for noncommercial use. Commercial users should seek written permission from the authors (S.P. or N.R.). Ross Cayley publishes with the permission of the Director of the Geological Survey of Victoria.
- ambient noise tomography
- continental accretion
- crustal azimuthal anisotropy
- East Gondwana