A Review of the Paleomagnetism of Australia and Antarctica

  1. M.W. McEIhinny and
  2. D.A. Valencio
  1. B. J. J. Embleton

Published Online: 15 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GD002p0077

Paleoreconstruction of the Continents

Paleoreconstruction of the Continents

How to Cite

Embleton, B. J. J. (1981) A Review of the Paleomagnetism of Australia and Antarctica, in Paleoreconstruction of the Continents (eds M.W. McEIhinny and D.A. Valencio), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GD002p0077

Author Information

  1. CSIRO Division of Mineral Physics, PO Box 136, North Ryde, NSW 2113 Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1981

Book Series:

  1. Geodynamics Series

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875905112

Online ISBN: 9781118670217



  • Cenozoic;
  • Mesozoic;
  • Paleomagnetism;
  • Paleozoic;
  • Precambrian;
  • Rock formations


Australia and East Antarctica were juxtaposed for the whole of Paleozoic and Mesozoic time. Post-Archean unity of the crustal nuclei that comprise the main Australian platform has been demonstrated but insufficient Precambrian paleomagnetic data from East Antarctica preclude confirmation of its Proterozoic reconstruction to Australia.

Apparent polar wander (APW) relative to Australia is reasonably well understood for the Phanerozoic and the Proterozoic to about 2500 Myr. Problems highlighted include the resolution of APW between 2300 and 1800 Myr and between 1800 and 1700 Myr. Nor is it clear in which hemisphere Australia resided during the Early Paleozoic.

A complex Mesozoic drift history for Australia has been elucidated following the recognition and discrimination between multi-component magnetisation vectors. A period of ubiquitous magnetic overprinting in the Cretaceous is recognised. This event is causatively related to a period of burial and raised crustal temperatures prior to initial rifting and overburden removal associated with the formation of the Tasman Sea. Cenozoic APW reflects Australia's general northward drift since its separation from Antarctica 53 Myr ago.

Mesozoic paleomagnetic data from West Antarctica confirm that it comprises crustal units which experienced different drift histories during the Mesozoic phase of plate movements. Data from the Antarctic Peninsula do not support post-Late Cretaceous oroclinal bending and show that little latitudinal movement has taken place in the last 100 Myr.