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Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 93-113; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030093
Article

Far-Field Deformation Resulting from Rheologic Differences Interacting with Tectonic Stresses: An Example from the Pacific/Australian Plate Boundary in Southern New Zealand

1,* , 2
 and
3
1 GNS Science, PO Box 30368, Lower Hutt 5040, New Zealand 2 Geology Department, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand 3 National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, UK
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 April 2014 / Revised: 25 June 2014 / Accepted: 27 June 2014 / Published: 10 July 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geological Mapping and Modeling of Earth Architectures)
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Abstract

The Miocene in Southern New Zealand was dominated by strike-slip tectonics. Stratigraphic evidence from this time attests to two zones of subsidence in the south: (a) a middle Cenozoic pull-apart basin and (b) a regionally extensive subsiding lake complex, which developed east and distal to the developing plate boundary structure. The lake overlay a block of crust with a significantly weak mid-crustal section and we pose the question: can rheological transitions at an angle to a plate boundary produce distal subsidence and/or uplift? We use stratigraphic, structural and geophysical observations from Southern New Zealand to constrain three-dimensional numerical models for a variety of boundary conditions and rheological scenarios. We show that coincident subsidence and uplift can result from purely strike-slip boundary conditions interacting with a transition from strong to weak to strong mid-crustal rheology. The resulting pattern of vertical displacement is a function of the symmetry or asymmetry of the boundary conditions and the extent and orientation of the rheological transitions. For the Southern New Zealand case study, subsidence rates of ~0.1 mm/yr are predicted for a relative plate motion of 25 mm/yr, leading to ~500 m of subsidence over a 5 Ma time period, comparable to the thickness of preserved lacustrine sediments.
Keywords: paleogeography; crustal rheology; tectonic subsidence; New Zealand; Otago Schist; Lake Manuherikia paleogeography; crustal rheology; tectonic subsidence; New Zealand; Otago Schist; Lake Manuherikia
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
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Upton, P.; Craw, D.; Walcott, R. Far-Field Deformation Resulting from Rheologic Differences Interacting with Tectonic Stresses: An Example from the Pacific/Australian Plate Boundary in Southern New Zealand. Geosciences 2014, 4, 93-113.

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