Combining Data and Models of the Centralian Superbasin to Investigate Cratonic Basin Formation

Lead PI: Jacqueline Austermann

Unit Affiliation: Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

September 2018 - August 2019
Oceania ; Centralian Superbasin ; Australia
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: A major outstanding mystery in our interpretation of the geological record involves the formation and evolution of cratonic basins. Many studies have focussed on understanding these basins due to their significance in continental sedimentary records and considerable resource potential. However, no general consensus regarding their generation mechanism has emerged. While hydrocarbon exploration has led to the collection of a wide range of geophysical and geological data, many key features such as the crustal and lithospheric structure remain unconstrained. This proposal describes the common characteristics of cratonic basins and possible mechanisms of their formation.

The proposed work aims to test different formation mechanisms for one particular basin, the Centralian Superbasin in Australia, which initiated in the Neoproterozoic and has since undergone two significant orogenies. This basin has exceptional data coverage including aeromagnetics, ground gravity, magnetotellurics, passive seismic, borehole data and deep seismic reflection profiles, which allows unprecedented analysis of the spatiotemporal evolution of the crust and lithosphere.

Visco-plastic 3D modeling with the geodynamic code ASPECT is proposed to be used to investigate the dynamics and surface expressions of different formation scenarios. Integrating data with model results will improve our understanding of how the Centralian Superbasin has formed. Insights gained from this basin will be crucial to extending this work to other cratonic basins, with potential to improve our understanding of rifting, mantle plume-lithosphere interactions and the supercontinent cycle.


American Chemical Society




Mark Hoggard, Karol Czarnota


Geoscience Australia


Article: Ore bodies, it has been discovered, are not randomly distributed, The Economist


mineral resources lithospheric structure cratonic basin formation hydrocarbon system


Earth fundamentals