Discovering a new crustal paradigm

Image courtesy of Searcher Seismic

The Papuan Plateau is sitting on oceanic crust…right?

This is a question a client recently asked us to answer in the Gulf of Papua. It’s a fairly widespread paradigm that the Gulf of Papua outboard of the Fly River Delta is underlain by Tertiary oceanic crust associated with the opening of the Coral Sea. But our answer may surprise you!

After many months spent mapping the enormous Searcher Seismic Haere and Hahonua 2D regional datasets, we’re unconvinced. We think we can correlate the pre-rift stratigraphy, Carboniferous basement and pick a potential Moho horizon onto the Papuan Plateau that suggests a crustal thickness more in line with attenuated continental crust, rather than oceanic. Yes, in the far reaches we can see the oceanic crust, but it’s a far smaller area than previous publications on the tectonics of the region would have us believe.

So we’re going with attenuated continental crust…for most of the region. And with potential Jurassic stratigraphy and continental thermodynamics, we think that makes the Papuan Plateau hot property!