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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 which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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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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