An Exposed Cross-Section of Continental Crust, Doubtful Sound Fiordland, New Zealand; Geophysical & Geological Setting

  • G. J. H. Oliver
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (ASIC, volume 317)


Doubtful Sound apparently has the largest positive Bouguer anomaly in the World. The anomaly lies adjacent to the Alpine Fault, an active plate collision contact between the Pacific and Indian Plates. The exceptional setting has led to the uplift and exposure of 25km of a 35km thick continental crustal section of the Pacific Plate margin. The base of the section is composed of >12kb granulite orthogneisses. They are in tectonic contact with 5–9kb ortho- and para-amphibolites of the middle crust. The contact is an extensional ductile shear zone called the Doubtful Sound Decollement. Structures dip away from a central dome such that in eastern Fiordland, the upper crust of basic and acid plutons, volcanics and sediments is exposed. Radiometric dating suggests the following senario: late Mesozoic continental extension associated with incipient Tasman Sea spreading, uplifted unusually deep structural levels of a Mid-Cretaceous metamorphic core complex. Granulite orthogneisses of the basement-core have protoliths of gabbroic calc-alkal ine arc plutonics dated at 119–130 Ma, similar in age to diorites and granites of the upper crustal level in eastern Fiordland and equivalents in NW Nelson. The covering carapace of early to mid-Palaeozoic Tuhuan ortho- and para-schists (386–428 Ma igneous protoliths) were separated from the basement-core granulites by VVV93 Ma rnylonites. The dynamic metamorphism and uplift associated with the extension tectonics reset the Tuhuan mineral dates to give mica cooling ages of <80 Ma. Late Eocene-early Miocene transcurrent and more recent transpressive faulting, has brought the Fiordland metamorphic core complex to the surface along the Pacific- Indian Plate boundary - the Alpine Fault.


Continental Crust Lower Crust Metamorphic Core Complex Benioff Zone Alpine Fault 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. J. H. Oliver
    • 1
  1. 1.Geology DivisionThe UniversitySt Andrews FifeScotland

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