Ancient and Modern Examples of Tectonic Escape Basins: The Archaean Witwatersrand Basin Compared with the Cenozoic Maracaibo Basin

  1. L. E. Frostick2 and
  2. R. J. Steel3
  1. I. G. Stanistreet

Published Online: 16 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304053.ch19

Tectonic Controls and Signatures in Sedimentary Successions

Tectonic Controls and Signatures in Sedimentary Successions

How to Cite

Stanistreet, I. G. (1994) Ancient and Modern Examples of Tectonic Escape Basins: The Archaean Witwatersrand Basin Compared with the Cenozoic Maracaibo Basin, in Tectonic Controls and Signatures in Sedimentary Successions (eds L. E. Frostick and R. J. Steel), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304053.ch19

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Reading, UK

  2. 3

    Bergen, Norway

Author Information

  1. Department of Geology, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 16 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 28 FEB 1994

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632037452

Online ISBN: 9781444304053

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Keywords:

  • tectonic escape basins – archean Witwatersand basin;
  • Precambrian tectonics on Kaapvaal Craton;
  • stratigraphy of Witwatersand Supergroup;
  • collisional tectonic escape processes;
  • tectonic evolutionary context of Witwatersand tectonic escape

Summary

The Archaean Witwatersrand Basin is the one Precambrian basin in which, because of extensive mining and exploration activity, the geological and geophysical data set compares well with that of younger Phanerozoic basins. The later part of the basin history, and that of the succeeding Lichtenburg Basin which resulted from tectonic inversion, record events which occurred at an adjacent plate margin between 2750 and 2690 Ma when the Zimbabwe Craton collided with the Kaapvaal Craton. Prior to this collision the lowermost marine sediments of the Witwatersrand Supergroup were deposited in an epicontinental sea which covered much of the Kaapvaal Craton. In contrast the uppermost sediments of the Witwatersrand Supergroup were deposited in a fault-controlled basin which was far smaller than the earlier depository and in which Laramide style block-faulting interacted with sedimentation dominated by a fluvial apron or bajada which passed proximally into pediment surfaces. The bajada still interacted with a marine water body in the basin centre. Oblique-slip reverse faults defined the basin margin and developed under NE–SW-directed collisional compression which also activated northwest-trending synsedimentary folds. This compression produced source area uplift to the north and west of the basin. Strike-slip components of fault movement are also reflected in shear zones exterior to the basin. The resultant displacement was that of a block tectonically escaping to the southeast out of the Kaapvaal Craton, a process similar to tectonic escapes described from behind the Himalayan Orogen and in the Aegean area. The tectonic escape was followed by major collisional indentation and the development of an impactogenal rift, the initial form of the succeeding Lichtenburg Basin. An analogous recent basin to the end-phase Witwatersrand Basin, in terms of size, depositional systems and tectonic style is the Maracaibo Basin of northern South America, which is tectonically escaping northward into the Caribbean Sea because of the collision of the Panama Arc with South America.