Structure of the crust and upper mantle beneath Bass Strait, southeast Australia, from teleseismic body wave tomography

Mohammed Bello* (Corresponding Author), Nicholas Rawlinson, Dave Cornwell, Emily Crowder, Michelle Salmon, Anya M. Reading

*Corresponding author for this work

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We present new constraints on the lithospheric velocity structure of Bass Strait and the adjoining landmasses of mainland Australia and Tasmania in order to better constrain their geological and tectonic relationship. This is achieved by performing teleseismic tomography using data from fifteen deployments of WOMBAT and BASS transportable arrays, which span southeastern Australia. The starting model for the teleseismic tomography includes crustal velocity structure constrained by surface waves extracted from ambient seismic noise data and a Moho surface and broad-scale variations in 3-D upper mantle velocity structure from the Australian seismological reference Earth model (AuSREM). As a consequence, we produce a model with a high level of detail in both the crust and upper mantle. Our new results strengthen the argument for a low velocity upper mantle anomaly that extends down to ~150 km depth directly beneath the Newer Volcanics Province in Victoria, which is likely related to recent intra-plate volcanism. Beneath Bass Strait, which is thought to host the entrained VanDieland microcontinent, upper mantle velocities are low relative to those typically found beneath Precambrian continental crust; it is possible that failed rifting in Bass Strait during the Cretaceous, opening of the Tasman Sea, extension of VanDieland during Rodinian break up and recent plume activity in the past 5 Ma may have altered the seismic character of this region. The data nevertheless suggest: (1) the velocity structure of the VanDieland microcontinent lacks continuity within its lithosphere; (2) the Moyston Fault defines an area of strong velocity transition at the boundary between the Cambrian Delamerian Orogen and the Cambrian-Carboniferous Lachlan Orogen; and (3) there is a rapid decrease in mantle velocity inboard of the east coast of Australia, which is consistent with substantial thinning of the lithosphere towards the passive margin.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106276
Number of pages15
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Early online date2 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019

Bibliographical note

We thank many land owners and field team members from mainland Australia and Tasmania. Particular thanks to Armando Arcidiaco and Qi Li from ANU for assistance with the collection and archiving of the data used in this study. ARC grants DP120103673, LE120100061, LP110100256 and DP0986750 were instrumental in supporting the WOMBAT and BASS deployments.


  • teleseismic tomography
  • body waves
  • surface waves
  • upper mantle
  • Bass Strait
  • southeast Australia
  • Body waves
  • Southeast Australia
  • Upper mantle
  • Surface waves
  • Teleseismic tomography


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