Pliocene Core Complex Exhumation on Land and Rapid Subsidence in Gorontalo Bay, Sulawesi (Indonesia)

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Giovanni Pezzati, Robert Hall, Peter Burgess and Marta Perez-Gussinye, SE Asia Research Group, Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, United Kingdom
Gorontalo Bay is a semi-enclosed sea between the North and East Arms of Sulawesi. It is surrounded by land on three sides, separating a northern volcanic province from metamorphic rocks to the south and west, and ophiolites to the southeast. Recently acquired multibeam bathymetry and 2D seismic data suggest a link between core complex exhumation on land and offshore subsidence driven by major young extension.

In western Gorontalo Bay are two sub-basins with different histories: Tomini Basin in the north and Poso Basin in the south. In Tomini Basin six major seismic sequences (Units A to F) have a total thickness over 5 sec TWT. Ages are based on interpreted correlations with events on land. Basement Unit A subsided from the Early Miocene, with deposition of Units B and C, largely in a deep marine environment. There was regional uplift in the Middle Miocene. Carbonate platforms were thereafter deposited in shallow marine environments (Units D-E). The platforms show a wedge geometry that suggests tilting of the basin during their deposition. Subsidence accelerated during the deposition of Unit E in the Early Pliocene, causing backstepping of the shelf edge, formation of pinnacle reefs and then drowning of the carbonate platforms, leading to present depths of 2 km in the basin centre (Unit F).

Poso Basin is younger than Tomini Basin and forms the southern part of western Gorontalo Bay. The deeper part of its sedimentary sequence is probably the time equivalent of Unit D in Tomini Basin. It contains a complex deformed sequence of sediments, up to 3 sec TWT, that are the probable equivalent of Units E and F to the north. On land to the south of Poso Basin is a large metamorphic core complex. Seismic data suggest that the northern flank of the complex can be traced into a potential low angle normal fault under the basin that caused subsidence offshore. Low T thermochronology and alluvial sediment records on land suggest major uplift and subsidence occurred in the Pliocene.