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Keywords:

  • continental extension;
  • prerift breakup;
  • gneiss dome uplift;
  • Papua New Guinea;
  • D'Entrecasteaux Islands

[1] The D'Entrecasteaux Island (DEI) gneiss domes are fault-bounded domes with ∼2.5 km of relief exposing ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) and high-pressure (HP) metamorphic gneisses and migmatites exhumed in an Oligocene-Miocene arc-continent collision and subduction zone subject to Late Miocene to Recent continental extension. To study the style of continental extension accompanying exhumation of the DEI gneiss domes, a grid of 1518 km of 2-D multichannel seismic (MCS) reflection data and well data is interpreted from the offshore areas surrounding the DEI, including the Trobriand basin and the Goodenough basin. The offshore study is combined with onshore geologic information to constrain the Oligocene to Recent tectonic evolution of the basins. MCS and well data are consistent with the Trobriand basin forming as a forearc basin caused by southward Miocene subduction at the Trobriand trench. At ∼8 Ma, the margin transitioned to an extensional tectonic environment. Since then, the Trobriand basin has subsided 1–2.5 km with few normal faults deforming the basin fill. South of the DEI, the Goodenough rift basin developed after extension began (∼8 Ma) with the hanging wall of the north-dipping Owen-Stanley normal fault bounding the southern margin of the basin. The lack of evidence of upper crustal extension accompanying subsidence in the Trobriand and Goodenough basins suggests depth-dependent lithospheric extension from 8 to 0 Ma has accompanied uplift of the DEI gneiss domes and supports schematic model of uplift of the DEI domes involving vertical exhumation of buoyant, postorogenic lower crust, far-field extension from slab rollback, and an inverted two-layer crustal density structure.