Interpretation of a ca. 1600–1580 Ma metamorphic core complex in the northern Gawler Craton, Australia

Caroline J. Tiddy, Peter G. Betts, Mitchell R. Neumann, Finbarr C. Murphy, John Rea Stewart, David Giles, Mick Sawyer, Hamish Freeman, Fred Jourdan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The Mount Woods Domain in the Gawler Craton, South Australia records a complex tectonic evolution spanning the Palaeoproterozoic and Mesoproterozoic. The regional structural architecture is interpreted to represent a partially preserved metamorphic core complex that developed during the ~1600–1580 Ma Hiltaba Event, making this one of the oldest known core complexes on Earth. The lower plate is preserved in the central Mount Woods Domain, which comprises the Mount Woods Metamorphics. These rocks yield a detrital zircon maximum depositional age of ~1860 Ma and were polydeformed and metamorphosed to upper amphibolite to granulite facies during the ~1740–1690 Ma Kimban Orogeny. The upper plate comprises a younger succession (the Skylark Metasediments) deposited at ~1750 Ma. Within the upper plate, sedimentary and volcanic successions of the Gawler Range Volcanics were deposited into half graben that evolved during brittle normal faulting. The Skylark Shear Zone represents the basal detachment fault separating the upper and lower plate of the core complex. The geometry of normal faults in the upper plate is consistent with NE-SW extension. Both the upper and lower plates are intruded by ~1795–1575 Ma Hiltaba Suite granitic and mafic plutons. The core complex was extensively modified during the ~1570–1540 Ma Kararan Orogeny. Exhumation of the western and eastern Mount Woods Domain is indicated by new 40Ar/39Ar biotite cooling ages that show that rock packages in the central Mount Woods Domain cooled past ~300 °C ± 50 °C at ~1560 Ma, which was ~20 million years before equivalent cooling in the western and eastern Mount Woods Domain. Exhumation was associated with activity along major syn-Kararan Orogeny faults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-290
Number of pages28
JournalGondwana Research
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Gawler Craton
  • Geochronology
  • Metamorphic core complex
  • Mount Woods Domain
  • Proterozoic Australia
  • Structural geophysics

Cite this