Tectonometamorphic evolution of Seram and Ambon, eastern Indonesia: Insights from 40Ar/39Ar geochronology




Pownall, Jonathan
Forster, Margaret
Hall, R.
Watkinson, Ian M.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




The island of Seram, eastern Indonesia, experienced a complex Neogene history of multiple metamorphic and deformational events driven by Australia–SE Asia collision. Geological mapping, and structural and petrographic analysis has identified two main phases in the island's tectonic, metamorphic, and magmatic evolution: (1) an initial episode of extreme extension that exhumed hot lherzolites from the subcontinental lithospheric mantle and drove ultrahigh-temperature metamorphism and melting of adjacent continental crust; and (2) subsequent episodes of extensional detachment faulting and strike-slip faulting that further exhumed granulites and mantle rocks across Seram and Ambon. Here we present the results of sixteen 40Ar/39Ar furnace step heating experiments on white mica, biotite, and phlogopite for a suite of twelve rocks that were targeted to further unravel Seram's tectonic and metamorphic history. Despite a wide lithological and structural diversity among the samples, there is a remarkable degree of correlation between the 40Ar/39Ar ages recorded by different rock types situated in different structural settings, recording thermal events at 16 Ma, 5.7 Ma, 4.5 Ma, and 3.4 Ma. These frequently measured ages are defined, in most instances, by two or more 40Ar/39Ar ages that are identical within error. At 16 Ma, a major kyanite-grade metamorphic event affected the Tehoru Formation across western and central Seram, coincident with ultrahigh-temperature metamorphism and melting of granulite-facies rocks comprising the Kobipoto Complex, and the intrusion of lamprophyres. Later, at 5.7 Ma, Kobipoto Complex rocks were exhumed beneath extensional detachment faults on the Kaibobo Peninsula of western Seram, heating and shearing adjacent Tehoru Formation schists to form Taunusa Complex gneisses. Then, at 4.5 Ma, 40Ar/39Ar ages record deformation within the Kawa Shear Zone (central Seram) and overprinting of detachment faults in western Seram. Finally, at 3.4 Ma, Kobipoto Complex migmatites were exhumed on Ambon, at the same time as deformation within the Kawa Shear Zone and further overprinting of detachments in western Seram. These ages support there having been multiple synchronised episodes of high-temperature extension and strike-slip faulting, interpreted to be the result of Western Seram having been ripped off from SE Sulawesi, extended, and dragged east by subduction rollback of the Banda Slab.



Banda, Rollback, Extension, Mantle exhumation, Argon



Gondwana Research


Journal article

Book Title

Entity type

Access Statement

License Rights



Restricted until