Quaternary Deformation of Sumba, Indonesia: Evidence from Carbonate Terraces

Friday, 19 December 2014
Maxwell Philip Dahlquist, A. Joshua West and James Francis Dolan, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, United States
The Banda Arc of Indonesia remains one of the least understood tectonic domains on the modern Earth. The island of Sumba, located approximately 50 km south of Flores and 120 km north of the Java Trench, northwest of where it transitions into the Timor Trough, lies in a region of tectonic transition and potentially offers insights into regional dynamics. The Banda Arc is volcanically active, but Sumba itself is not volcanic. The northern coast of Sumba is covered in Quaternary coral terraces, with the rest of the island's surface geology composed of Mio-pliocene carbonates and uplifted Late Cretaceous-Oligocene forearc basin and volcanic rocks. The purpose of this study is to remotely map the topographic expression of the coral terraces and use the information gained to better understand deformation on Sumba since their deposition. The ages of the coral terraces, of which many platforms are exposed over significant areas of the island, have been constrained at Cape Luandi in north central Sumba, but uplift rates calculated from those ages may not be representative of the island as a whole. The lateral continuity of these dated terraces can help constrain the extent to which uplift of Sumba is spatially variable. Analysis of the terraces using SRTM digital elevation data with ArcGIS software makes it possible to trace the same terrace platforms over large distances, and shows that the north central part of the island has experienced the most uplift since the deposition of the terraces, forming an anticline with the east limb dipping more steeply than the west. The terraces are not well preserved on the southern half of the island. Exposure of older rocks and lack of terrace preservation, as well as a south-skewed drainage divide suggests the southern half of the island experiences greater exhumation, but this could be driven by climate or other factors and does not necessarily indicate more rapid uplift. Study of Quaternary deformation of Sumba can offer greater understanding of the ongoing collision of the Banda Arc with the Australian continent. A more complete picture of the region may provide insights into seismic hazards as well as the behavior of arc-continent collision systems and active margins in general.