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Indonesian Association of Geophysicists (HAGI)

33rd Annual Convention and Exhibition, Bandung November 3-5, 2008

On the Origin of the Meratus Uplift, Southeast Kalimantan Tectonic and Gravity Constraints
: A Model for Exhumation of Collisional Orogen in Indonesia
Awang Harun Satyana 1) Cipi Armandita 1)

1)

Exploration Division BPMIGAS, Jakarta; aharun@bpmigas.com


rifting of the Makassar Strait. Recent seismic data however,
show undeformed sections of the western South Makassar
Strait and Paternoster terrane, opposing the consideration
that the micro-continents colliding eastern Sulawesi
propagated their tectonic forces westwards and uplifting the
Meratus Mountains.

Abstract
The Meratus Mountains is a collisional orogen/suture
marking the collision of Schwaner and Paternoster
continents. The collision took place in the Early-Middle
Cretaceous.
Presently, the mountain is a basement uplift separating the
Barito from the Asem-Asem and Pasir Basins. The origin
of the Meratus uplift has been debated. Many authors
considered that the uplift related to compression due to
collision of micro-continents to the east of Sulawesi and/or
rifting of the Makassar Strait. Recent seismic data in the
Makassar Strait however, oppose this idea.
We propose a new mechanism of the Meratus uplift based
on tectonic interpretation of gravity and magnetic studies.
The Meratus Mountains is rootless. It is thin allochthonous
oceanic slab, submarine volcanics and deep-sea sediments
overlying thick subducted Paternoster continent. Due to its
buoyancy relative to upper mantle, the Paternoster
continent broke off its oceanic front and started to exhume
in Late Cretaceous time. The exhumation of the Paternoster
continent has uplifted the Meratus suture and effectively
formed a subaerial mountain separating the adjacent basins
in the Mio-Pliocene.

Figure 1 Location of the Meratus Mountains in Southeast


Kalimantan.

This mechanism of continental exhumation provides a


model for the origins of other collisional uplifts in
Indonesia such as : eastern Sulawesi, Central Ranges of
Papua and Timor.

We propose here a new mechanism of the Meratus uplift. It


is based on the tectonic interpretation of the gravity and
magnetic studies. This mechanism is also observed in other
collisional orogens of Indonesia (such as eastern Sulawesi,
Central Ranges of Papua and Timor).

Introduction
The Meratus Mountains, Southeast Kalimantan is
obviously an uplifted mountain. The uplift has isostatically
subsided the adjacent Barito Basin located just to the west
of the mountains. The structural styles of the basin were
strongly controlled by the Meratus uplift.

The Meratus Mountains, Southeast Kalimantan is


obviously an uplifted mountains. The uplift has isostatically
subsided the adjacent Barito Basin located just to the west
of the mountains. The structural styles of the basin were
strongly controlled by the Meratus uplift.

Since the Meratus Mountains is located in between two


stable micro-continents, namely Schwaner to the west and
Paternoster to the east, and it is far from the micro-plates
margins; there has been discussions on the origin of the
Meratus uplift.

Since the Meratus Mountains is located in between two


stable micro-continents, namely Schwaner to the west and
Paternoster to the east, and it is far from the micro-plates
margins; there has been discussions on the origin of the
Meratus uplift.

The origin of the Meratus uplift has been difficult to reckon


since the mountains is located in stable area. Many authors
considered that the uplift related to compression due to
collision of micro-continents to the east of Sulawesi and/or

-1-

Indonesian Association of Geophysicists (HAGI)


33rd Annual Convention and Exhibition, Bandung November 3-5, 2008
The origin of the Meratus uplift has been difficult to reckon
since the mountains is located in stable area. Many authors
considered that the uplift related to compression due to
collision of micro-continents to the east of Sulawesi and/or
rifting of the Makassar Strait. Recent seismic data however,
show undeformed sections of the western South Makassar
Strait and Paternoster terrane, opposing the consideration
that the micro-continents colliding eastern Sulawesi
propagated their tectonic forces westwards and uplifting the
Meratus Mountains.

Gravity and magnetic data are modeled qualitatively and


quantitatively. Variable models from previous authors were
evaluated. Judging the right models are examined by the
degree of coincidence between observed and computed
values. The closer the observed to computed values, the
more likely the models. The models were then checked
their reasoning tectonically. Having confirmed the models,
the tectonic history was discussed.

We propose here a new mechanism of the Meratus uplift. It


is based on the tectonic interpretation of the gravity and
magnetic studies. This mechanism is also observed in other
collisional orogens of Indonesia (such as eastern Sulawesi,
Central Ranges of Papua and Timor).

Situmorang (1989) and Metcalfe (1996) reconstructed the


origin of these micro-continents from the Gondwanaland,
rifted and drifted to their present position during the
Mesozoic by the opening of the Meso-Tethys and CenoTethys oceans. In Kalimantan, these micro-continents
collided and sutured forming the Meratus Orogen.
Therefore, the Meratus ophiolites may represent the
obducted oceanic crust initially located between the
Schwaner continent and Paternoster micro-continent. In
southeastern Sundaland, in the Middle Cretaceous (AlbianCenomanian), the Paternoster micro-continent collided with
the Sundaland margin which at that time was rimmed by
shelf to slope sedimentary rocks to early Aptian (Early
Cretaceous) Paniungan to Batununggal Formations. This
collision had closed the oceanic crust located between the
Sundaland and the Paternoster. An ultra-basic wedge once
part of the oceanic crust was obducted and north-directed
overthrusted onto the margin of the Sundaland where it
presently found in the Meratus Range.

Result and Discussion

Data and Method


Gravity data compose the basic data used for this study.
Magnetic and topographic data,
surface geological
mapping, densities and magnetic susceptibility of rocks are
supportive for the interpretation.
Gravity (Bouguer
anomaly) data were based on Situmorang (1987), Subagio
et al. (2000), and Gaol et al. (2005). Magnetic data were
also based on Subagio et al. (2000).

Figure 3 Meratus Range is sandwiched between Schwaner


and Paternoster Continent (Satyana, 2003).

Figure 2 Bouguer anomaly map of the Meratus


Mountains, Southeast Kalimantan (Subagio et al., 2000).

The Meratus Mountains have long been believed as the


Late Cretaceous subduction zone extending from the
contemporaneous subduction zone across Java exposed in
Ciletuh and Luk Ulo areas. The mountain is made up of

Indonesian Association of Geophysicists (HAGI)


33rd Annual Convention and Exhibition, Bandung November 3-5, 2008
assemblage of oceanic fragment (ophiolite), submarine
volcanics and deep-sea sediments marking the suture of
collision.

the Meratus Mountains. The lower range of anomalies with


minimum value of -30 mGal in the northwest can be
interpreted as the expression of thick sediments covering
the basement. The Meratus Mountains is characterized by a
positive gravity anomaly with a maximum value of +80
mGal.

The origin of ophiolite of the Meratus Mountains is beyond


the scope of our paper. One interpretation is that the
Meratus ophiolite could be a fragment of sub continental
lithospheric mantle extruding to the surface during the last
stage of continental rifting phase. Other origins are also
possible, such as : (1) a product of supra-subduction zone
at convergent boundary and (2) incipient ocean crust
remains locked to the continental margin when the ocean
basin closes

Results of gravity modeling from all previous authors


(Situmorang, 1987; Subagio et al. , 2000 and Gaol et al.,
2005) indicate that in the eastern and central part of the
profiles, an ultrabasic/ophiolite (density 2.90 g/cm3, about 4
km thick) overlain granitic mass (density 2.68 g/cm3
thickness 26 km). The ophiolite layer underlay the preTertiary rock units with a density of 2.40 g/cm3 and around
1 km thick and the Tertiary sediments with a density 2.20
g/cm3 and thickness of about 2 km.

The presence of ophiolite and its uplift have been


speculated by many authors. The mechanisms proposed
include : (1) by collision between the western arc of
Sulawesi and eastern Kalimantan, (2) by large scale
compression from the Australian-origin micro-continents to
the east of Sulawesi encouraging the extrusion of the
mechanically weak Meratus ophiolites during the earlier
Miocene, (3) by the movement of the Pacific plate
westwards pushing Sulawesi towards the Asian continent
closing of the Makassar Straits at the end of Pliocene, (4) as
uplifted subduction complex due to micro-continent
collision in Cretaceous to Early Eocene time, (5) as related
to subduction, accretion, and collision at the southeastern
margin of the Sundaland from Late Jurassic to Late
Cretaceous, and (6) as the obducted oceanic crust initially
located between the Schwaner continent and Paternoster
micro-continent during the Middle Cretaceous, (7) flower
structuring of Meratus strike-slip.
We interpret that the Meratus Mountains is a collisional
orogen. It is resulted from collision of Schwaner and
Paternoster micro-continents following subduction of
oceanic slab in front of Paternoster and associated
accretion. The collision took place mainly in the Early to
Middle Cretaceous. Its ophiolite is rootless and underlain
by granite of the Paternoster continent once subducted
below Schwaner. The Meratus uplift is due to the
exhumation of the underlying Paternoster continent.

Figure 4 Gravity modeling implying continental collision.


Note that the Meratus ultrabasic rocks are thin and overlying
granitic continent (Subagio et al., 2000).
The importance of this result is that : (1) the ultrabasic
rocks in the Meratus Mountains can be interpreted as thin
allochtonous masses instead of deep seated intrusive body
or rootless, (2) there is a continental crust beneath the
Meratus ophiolite. Therefore, the Meratus Mountains is a
thin allochthonous
oceanic slab overlying a thick
subducted Paternoster continent.

The Bouguer gravity anomaly map of the Meratus


Mountains and its adjacent area is based on recent data
acquired by Subagio et al. (2000) and Gaol et al.(2005).
Some W-E and
NW-SE gravity traverses crossing
perpendicular relative the Meratus Mountains were
surveyed. From the Barito Basin to the east of the Meratus
Mountains, it can be seen that generally both positive and
negative Bouguer anomaly trend SW-NE parallel with the
mountains trend called as the Meratus trend. The Barito
Basin anomaly exhibits an asymmetrical form with a
westward gentle gradient and a steep gradient in the east,
suggesting a major fault contact along the western front of

The presence of buoyant continental crust beneath dense


thin oceanic slab and within dense upper mantle will cause
the continental crust to resume its position to the surface.
This process is called exhumation. Due to the buoyancy
relative to the upper mantle, the subducted Paternoster
continent broke off its oceanic front and started to exhume
in Late Cretaceous time. The exhumation of the Paternoster
continent has uplifted the Meratus ophiolite since then and

Indonesian Association of Geophysicists (HAGI)


33rd Annual Convention and Exhibition, Bandung November 3-5, 2008
effectively forming a subaerial mountains separating the
adjacent basins in the Mio-Pliocene. This is the way of how
the Meratus Mountains has been uplifted.

The Meratus Mountains is rootless. It is thin


allochthonous oceanic slab, submarine volcanics and
deep-sea sediments overlying thick subducted
Paternoster continent. Due to its buoyancy relative to
upper mantle, the Paternoster continent broke off its
oceanic front and started to exhume in Late
Cretaceous time.

The exhumation of the Paternoster continent has


uplifted the Meratus suture and effectively formed a
subaerial mountains separating the adjacent basins in
the Mio-Pliocene.

References
Gaol, K.L., Permana, H., Kadarusman, A., Hananto, N.D.,
Wardana, D.D. and Sudrajat, Y., 2005, Jurnal Geofisika,
2005/2, 29.
Metcalfe, I., 1996, Geological Society Spec. Publ., 106, 97122.
Satyana, A.H., 2003, Proceedings Joint Convention HAGIIAGI.
Satyana, A.H., Tarigan, R.L. and Armandita, C., 2007,
Proceedings Joint Convention HAGI-IAGI-IATMI.
Situmorang, B., 1987, Scientific Contribution 2/87, 6172.
Situmorang, B., 1989, Scientific Contribution 1/89, 1023.
Subagio, Widijono, B.S. and Sardjono, 2000, Geophysical
Series, 1, March 2000, 4767.

Figure 5 Section across Schwaner continent, Barito Basin,


Meratus Mountains and Pasir-Asem-Asem Basin. The Meratus
Orogen is rootless overlying the subducted Paternoster
continent. As the continent broke off its slab front, exhumation
occurred and has uplifted the Meratus orogen (Satyana et al.,
2007).

The tectonic scenario of the Meratus Mountains/ophiolite is


as follows. The origin of the Meratus Mountains was
related to subduction, accretion, and collision at the
southeastern margin of the Sundaland from Late Jurassic to
Late Cretaceous. During the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous
there was Andean-type north-directed subduction of MesoTethys oceanic lithosphere beneath the Sundaland margin.
At late Early Cretaceous, a Proterozoic-Paleozoic
Gondwanan continental fragments collided with the eastern
part of the subduction zone. Until early Late Cretaceous,
the continents subducting beneath the accretionary prisms
of Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous subduction, rose due to
their buoyancies and thus facilitated rapid uplift and
exhumation. Collision of the micro-continents may have
also initiated the north-directed overthrusting and
emplacement of the Meratus and Bobaris (forearc)
ophiolites in SE Kalimantan. The collision of continental
fragments with the Sunda subduction system in the late
Early Cretaceous would have necessitated outboard,
oceanward migration of the subduction zone to facilitate
continuing plate convergence. Subduction in Late
Cretaceous trench occurred couple hundred km eastwards.

Acknowledgments
We acknowledge the Management of BPMIGAS for giving
support and sponsorship to publish this study. We thank Dr.
Djedi S. Widarto (Pertamina) and technical team from
HAGI for accepting this study for publication and giving a
guidance of writing this expanded abstract. We thank
Mukti Maruf (LIPI) for searching and sending a paper
written by Gaol et al. (2005). The first author thanks Dr.
Sardjono (formerly with PSG Indonesian Geological
Survey) for yearly discussion on gravity and Indra
Budiman (PSG) for sending a paper on Meratus gravity.
The first author remembers the late Dr. Bona Situmorang
for yearly discussions on southeastern margin of the
Sundaland. The first author thanks Dr. Prasetyadi (UPN)
for giving some publications on tectonics of Central
Indonesia.

Conclusions

The Meratus Mountains is a collisional orogen/suture


marking the Early-Middle Cretaceous collision of
Schwaner and Paternoster continents.