Detrital zircon U–Pb geochronology of Permian strata in the Galilee Basin, Queensland, Australia

<p>The late Carboniferous to Triassic tectonic history of eastern Australia includes important periods of regional-scale crustal extension and contraction. Evidence for these periods of tectonism is recorded by the extensive Pennsylvanian (late Carboniferous) to Triassic basin system of eastern Australia. In this study, we investigate the use of U–Pb dating of detrital zircons in reconstructing the tectonic development of one of these basins, the eastern Galilee Basin of Queensland. U–Pb detrital zircon ages were obtained from samples of stratigraphically well-constrained Cisuralian and Lopingian (early and late Permian, respectively) sandstone in the Galilee Basin. Detrital zircons in these sandstones are dominated by a population with ages in the range of 300–250 Ma, and ages from the youngest detrital zircons closely approximate depositional ages. We attribute these two fundamental findings to (1) appreciable derivation of detrital zircons in the Galilee Basin from the New England Orogen of easternmost Australia and (2) syndepositional magmatism. Furthermore, Cisuralian sandstone of the Galilee Basin contains significantly more >300 Ma detrital zircons than Lopingian sandstone. The transition in detrital zircon population, which is bracketed between 296 and 252 Ma based on previous high-precision U–Pb zircon ages from Permian ash beds in the Galilee Basin, corresponds with the Hunter–Bowen Orogeny and reflects a change in the Galilee Basin from an earlier extensional setting to a later foreland basin environment. During the Lopingian foreland basin phase, the individual depocentres of the Galilee and Bowen basins were linked to form a single and enormous foreland basin that covered >300 000 km<sup>2</sup> in central and eastern Queensland.</p>