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Structure and kinematics of the Louth-Eumarra Shear Zone (north-central New South Wales, Australia) and implications for the Paleozoic plate tectonic evolution of eastern Australia

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The ∼E–W-trending Olepoloko Fault and ∼ENE-trending Louth-Eumarra Shear Zone in north-central New South Wales are approximately orthogonal to the dominant ∼N–S-trending structural grain of Paleozoic eastern Australia. These structures have been interpreted to represent the boundary between the Thomson and Lachlan orogens, but their exact geometry and kinematics remain unclear owing to the scarcity of surface exposure. Using gridded aeromagnetic data and limited field mapping, we obtained new data on the tectonic history of the Louth-Eumarra Shear Zone, which seems to represent a broad zone of dextral shearing with a component of crustal thickening indicated by the recognition of kyanite growth in a mica-schist. The timing of deformation is relatively poorly constrained, but at least a component of the dextral shearing appears to be coeval or younger than the age of displaced late Silurian and Early Devonian granitoids. Additional indicators for dextral kinematics farther north, along the ∼ENE-trending Culgoa Fault, suggest that the width of the zone that was subjected to dextral deformation is possibly >100 km. This raises the possibility that a large component of dextral displacement was accommodated in this region. In a broader geodynamic context, we discuss the possibility that the precursor of the Louth-Eumarra Shear Zone and Olepoloko Fault originated from segmentation between the northern and southern Tasmanides, perhaps during the Cambrian. The existence of such a discontinuity may have buttressed the process of oroclinal bending in the Silurian. The observed dextral kinematics has possibly resulted from reactivated deformation during the Tabberabberan and Alice Springs orogenies.
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Keywords: Girilambone Group; Lachlan Orogen; Louth-Eumarra Shear Zone; Olepoloko Fault; dextral kinematics; southern Thomson Orogen

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Earth Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, 4072, Australia

Publication date: January 2, 2016

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