The planform of epeirogeny: vertical motions of Australia during the Cretaceous
Estimates of dynamic motion of Australia since the end of the Jurassic have been made by modelling marine flooding and comparing it with palaeogeographical reconstructions of marine inundation. First, sediment isopachs were backstripped from present-day topography. Dynamic motion was determined by the displacement needed to approximate observed flooding when allowance is made for changes in eustatic sea-level. The reconstructed inundation patterns suggest that during the Cretaceous, Australia remained a relatively stable platform, and flooding in the eastern interior during the Early Cretaceous was primarily the result of the regional tectonic motion. Vertical motion during the Cretaceous was much smaller than the movement since the end of the Cretaceous. Subsidence and marine flooding in the Eromanga and Surat Basins, and the subsequent 500 m of uplift of the eastern portion of the basin, may have been driven by changes in plate dynamics during the Mesozoic. Convergence along the north-east edge of Australia between 200 and 100 Ma coincides with platform sedimentation and subsidence within the Eromanga and Surat Basins. A major shift in the position of subduction at 140Ma was coeval with the marine incursion into the Eromanga. When subduction ended at 95 a, marine inundation of the Eromanga also ended. Subsidence and uplift of the eastern interior is consistent with dynamic models of subduction in which subsidence is generated when the dip angle of the slab decreases and uplift is generated when subduction terminates (i.e. the dynamic load vanishes). Since the end of the Cretaceous, Australia has uniformly subsided by about 250 m with little apparent tilting. This vertical subsidence may have resulted from the northward migration of the continent from a dynamic topography high and geoid low toward lower dynamic topography and a higher geoid.