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Structure of Sumatra and its implications for the tectonic assembly of Southeast Asia and the destruction of Paleotethys



It is now generally accepted that Southeast Asia is composed of continental blocks which separated from Gondwana with the formation of oceanic crust during the Paleozoic, and were accreted to Asia in the Late Paleozoic or Early Mesozoic, with the subduction of the intervening oceanic crust. From east to west the Malay peninsula and Sumatra are composed of three continental blocks: East Malaya with a Cathaysian Permian flora and fauna; Sibumasu, including the western part of the Malay peninsula and East Sumatra, with Late Carboniferous–Early Permian ‘pebbly mudstones’ interpreted as glaciogenic diamictites; and West Sumatra, again with Cathaysian fauna and flora. A further unit, the Woyla nappe, is interpreted as an intraoceanic arc thrust over the West Sumatra block in the mid Cretaceous. There are varied opinions concerning the age of collision of Sibumasu with East Malaya and the destruction of Paleotethys. In Thailand, radiolarites have been used as evidence that Paleotethys survived until after the Middle Triassic. In the Malay peninsula, structural evidence and the ages of granitic intrusions are used to support a Middle Permian to Early Triassic age for the destruction of Paleotethys. It is suggested that the West Sumatra block was derived from Cathaysia and emplaced against the western margin of Sibumasu by dextral transcurrent faulting along a zone of high deformation, the Medial Sumatra Tectonic Zone. These structural units can be traced northwards in Southeast Asia. The East Malaya block is considered to be part of the Indochina block, Sibumasu can be traced through Thailand into southern China, the Medial Sumatra Tectonic Zone is correlated with the Mogok Belt of Myanmar, the West Burma block is the extension of the West Sumatra block, from which it was separated by the formation of the Andaman Sea in the Miocene, and the Woyla nappe is correlated with the Mawgyi nappe of Myanmar.