U-Pb Zircon Age of the Walloon Coal Measures in the Surat Basin, Southeast Queensland: Implications for Paleogeography and Basin Subsidence

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The Jurassic Walloon Coal Measures of the Surat Basin were previously estimated to be of Middle Jurassic age, ranging from Aalenian to Callovian, based on an uncalibrated eastern Australian biostratigraphic framework. New U-Pb dates of 162.55 ± 0.05 Ma and 158.86 ± 0.04 Ma obtained from zircons in ash-fall volcanic tuffs now place the Walloon Coal Measures of the Surat Basin in the Upper Jurassic Oxfordian. The new dates have several implications for the interpretation of the Jurassic strata in the Surat Basin. First-order subsidence rates of 61 m/Myr for the Walloon Coal Measures are more akin to those of foreland basins than the previously assumed intracratonic setting. The dates also imply deposition of the Walloon coals in substantially higher latitudes than previously assumed and that they accumulated as peats in mires that experienced more than three months’ continual darkness each winter. Zircon dating of tuffs and associated geochemistry should assist with the correlation of the laterally impersistent coals, fluvial sandstone and mudstone of the Walloon Coal Measures, which are currently difficult to correlate over distances of more than a few kilometres. Dating of the palynostratigraphic zones APJ4.2 to APJ5 (Aequitriradites norrisii Association Zone to Murospora florida Association Zone) will also need to be recalibrated.