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Correlation of the Salawati and Tomori Basins, eastern Indonesia: A

constraint on left-lateral displacements of the Sorong fault zone

Article  in  Geological Society London Special Publications · January 1996

DOI: 10.1144/GSL.SP.1996.106.01.29


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Tim Charlton
Timor GAP E.P.


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Correlation of the Salawati and Tomori Basins, eastern Indonesia:
a constraint on left-lateral displacements of the Sorong fault zone
Department of Geology, Royal Holloway University of London,

Egham, Surrey TW20 OEX, UK

Present address: Ridge House, 1 St. Omer Ridge, Guildford, Surrey GU1 2DD, UK

Abstract: The Salawati Basin of western New Guinea and the Tomori Basin of eastern Sulawesi,
Indonesia, are two sedimentary basins located either side of the main fault strands in the Sorong
fault zone strike-slip system. It is suggested that prior to displacement on the Sorong system the
two formed a single sedimentary basin. Movement on the Sorong system occurred largely during
the latest Miocene-Quaternary, contemporaneous with deposition of a clastic sedimentary
succession. An older basinal sequence, essentially Miocene in age, is composed predominantly
of carbonate sediments, and this may have formed part of the foreland basin sequence related to
the east Sulawesi orogenic belt. Correlation of the Salawati and Tomori Basins implies a left­
lateral displacement of about 900 km on part of the Sorong fault zone.

The Salawati Basin of northwestern Irian Jaya a broad zone of regional left-lateral shear usually
(Indonesian western New Guinea) is the most known as the Sorong fault zone (Figs 1 & 2). The
important petroleum producing basin in eastern Sorong fault zone extends between the Bird's Head
Indonesia. The northern edge of the basin is region of Irian Jaya in the east and the island of
truncated by the Sorong fault, one fault strand in Sulawesi in the west, a distance in excess of

Continental shelves:

~ Eurasian
D Australian




Fig. 1. Regional tectonic setting of the Sorong fault zone. Inset: relative convergence vectors for the Eurasian (EU),
Indo-Australian (AU) and Pacific (PA) plates in the eastern Indonesia region.

From Hall, R. & Blundell, D. (eds), 1996, Tectonic Evolution of Southeast Asia, 465
Geological Society Special Publication No. 106, pp. 465--481.


Blank onshore: Post-orogenic basins

ob---i Platform
Imbricated Terranes of 'Australian'
stratigraphic affinity
III Terranes of non-Australian origin ('allochthon') E:::J Basement
o 200 400 km

Fig. 2. Structural setting of the Salawati and Tomori Basins and the Sorong fault zone. Bathymetry shaded at 1000 m
intervals adapted from Rehault et al. (1991), Smith &,. Silver (1991), Milson et al. (1992) and Hamilton (1979).

1500 km. The total offset on this fault system is the eastern Indonesia region, have only small
poorly constrained, but most estimates are in the motion vectors relative to the Pacific in this region,
range of many hundreds to several thousands of and for the purposes of the present paper can be
kilometres (e.g. Visser & Hermes 1962; Tjia 1973; treated as sub-plates of the main Pacific plate).
Pigott et al. 1982; Pigram & Panggabean 1984). Relative to the mantle, Eurasia is nearly static,
This poor constraint results primarily from the whilst the Indo-Australian plate is moving towards
absence of unambiguous displacement markers the NNE, and the Pacific plate is approaching
either side of the fault zone. The main aim of this Eurasia in a WNW direction (Fig. 1). The Sorong
paper is to suggest that prior to the development of Fault Zone is a transcurrent boundary between the
the Sorong fault system the Tomori Basin, located Pacific and Indo-Australian plates, with a
off the east coast of Sulawesi, formed the northern WSW-ENE orientation sub-parallel to the relative
half of a single sedimentary basin with the Salawati movement vector between these two plates.
Basin. This implies a displacement on the Sorong One important effect of the Sorong transcurrent
system of approximately 900 km. This interpret­ system has been to strip continental terranes from
ation has important implications for regional the northern margin of the Australian continental
tectonic evolution and hydrocarbon exploration in block and transfer them westward as elements of
eastern Indonesia, both of which will be considered the Pacific plate. Subsequently these allochthonous
in this paper. terranes have collided with and been accreted into
the western margin of Eurasia. Such displaced
continental terranes with Australian stratigraphic
Regional tectonic setting
affinity include Buton, southeast and east Sulawesi,
Eastern Indonesia is situated in the zone of inter­ the Banggai-Sula block and southwest Obi island
action between three of the Earth's major tectonic (Figs 1 & 2; e.g. Pigram & Panggabean 1984). The
plates (Fig. 1): the Eurasian, Indo-Australian and Tomori Basin, one of the primary focuses of the
Pacific plates (the Philippine Sea and Caroline present paper, is a successor basin developed on the
plates, which separate the Pacific plate proper from Banggai-Sula continental fragment.
The geology of the Sorong fault zone is rela­ The Salawati Basin
tively poorly known (Hall et al. 1991), and various
lineaments have been proposed as the main fault The Salawati Basin, located between the western
strands in this system. The fault pattern preferred margin of the Bird's Head and the island of Misool
by the present author is shown in Fig. 2. In the east, (Figs 2 & 3), is essentially a Neogene feature,
the Sorong fault sensu strictu forms a well-defined although the older basinal succession is concordant
east-west fault zone some 10-20 km broad through with an underlying Palaeogene shelf succession.
the Bird's Head. West ofthe Bird's Head, the author Two distinct phases of basinal development are
interprets the main fault strands to be the direct apparent: a Miocene phase in which carbonate
westward extension of the Sorong fault south of sedimentary environments predominated, and a
Obi island to immediately east of Sulabesi island Pliocene-Recent phase dominated by clastic
(here named the Sorong-Sulabesi fault), and the sedimentation.
South Sula fault (the western half of the South
Sula-Sorong fault of Hamilton 1979) west of Structural setting
Sulabesi island. Present-day seismicity in the
Sorong fault zone is primarily associated with the Total Tertiary isopachs for the Salawati Basin
Sorong-Sulabesi fault (Kertapati et al. 1992). At its define a NW-SE trending trough which is trun­
western end, this seismically active belt connects cated in the north by the Sorong-Sulabesi fault
via Sulabesi island southeastwards to a NW-SE (Fig. 3). The eastern margin of the basin is found in
trending belt of shallow level seismicity through the island of Salawati and the northwest comer of
Seram island, possib1y the right-lateral fault system the Bird's Head, whilst the western margin is
identified by Linthout et al. (1991); and northward marked by the island of Misool. As mentioned
into seismicity associated with the eastern margin above, the basin is readily divisible into Miocene
of the Molucca Sea collision zone (Fig. 1). The and Plio-Quaternary sub-basins. The Plio­
island of Sulabesi has a structure controlled by N-S Quaternary basinal depocentre is situated midway
trending normal faults, and marks a right step between Salawati and Misool islands, whilst the
between the presently active and inactive strands Miocene depocentre was located beneath the
of the main Sorong fault system. Sulabesi has present-day Sele Straits separating Salawati island
probably been rotated some 90 0 anticlockwise re1a­ -from the Bird's Head (Fig. 4).
tive to the main Sula islands to the north as a result The Miocene carbonate basin beneath Salawati
of transtension. Other fault strands, such as the island and the NW comer of the Bird's Head had
North Sula-Sorong fault and the Molucca-Sorong a semi-enclosed horseshoe shape open to the NW,
fault proposed by Hami1ton (1979) and others may with deep-water environments surrounded to the
or may not have had significant displacements in NE, east and south by shallower carbonate shelf
the past, but are not active at the present day. These (e.g. Vincelette & Soepardjadi 1976; Gibson­
fau1ts, however, lie north of the Banggai-Sula Robinson et al. 1990; see Fig. 10). No significant
displaced terrane which is the primary concern of faulting is recognized in association with this
the present paper, and any movement on these earlier basinal phase, which seems to have formed
faults would be additional to the strike-slip offsets by essentially passive downwarping after
interpreted here. deposition of the shallow marine Oligocene Sirga
A number of estimates have been made as to Formation (described subsequently). The main
when the Sorong fault zone became an active fault-related structural elements of the present­
feature. These include the Oligocene (Pigott et al. day basin developed during accumulation of the
1982), Early Miocene c. 25 Ma (Hermes 1968), younger, clastic basinal sequence. According to
Early Miocene (Tjia 1973), Early-Mid Miocene Cockcroft et al. (1984), regional tilting of the basin
(Hamilton 1979), post Mid Miocene (Visser & occurred after deposition of the Miocene Kais and
Hermes 1962), Early Pliocene (Dow & Sukamto Klasafet formations, and this was followed during
1984) and mid Pliocene (Froidevaux 1977). As will the mid Pliocene-Pleistocene by development of
be discussed in more detail subsequently, it is N-S trending normal faults. E-W trending folds,
suggested that the fault system has been active found in particular near the Sorong fault, are also
since the Late Miocene (c. 6-8 Ma). of Pliocene age (Gibson-Robinson et al. 1990).
In the following sections, the geology of the
Salawati and Tomori basins will be outlined, and
Pre- Tertiary stratigraphy
then the points of similarity that lel:'d to the con­
clusion of a common origin will be discussed. This Pre-Tertiary stratigraphy, ranging in age from
will be followed by discussion of the regional Palaeozoic to Upper Cretaceous, is exposed on the
tectonic and hydrocarbon exploration implications flanks of the Salawati Basin in the northern Bird's
of this interpretation. Head of Irian Jaya and in Misool island (Fig. 5).

o 50km


~ Miocene
[±] Continental basement

Tertiary volcanics on
G continental crust
Non-continental elements

Fig. 3. The Salawati Basin. Tertiary isopach contours are in km, interpolated from Imperial (feet) contouring by
Redmond & Koesoemadinata (1976). '

In the northern Bird's Head, continental basement A third phase of igneous intrusion also occurred
comprises Siluro-Devonian shales and turbidites during the Late Cretaceous, with granitic core
(the Kemum Formation) which were deformed, samples from the base of the Salawati K-1X well
metamorphosed and intruded by granitic rocks (e.g. yielding Campanian-Maastrichtian K-Ar radio­
the Melaiurna Granite) during the Late Devonian­ metric ages (71 ± 1.5 Ma from biotite and
Early Carboniferous (Visser & Hermes 1962; 79.3 ± 1.1 Ma from amphibole: Lunt & Djaafar
Pieters et ai. 1983). Lower Carboniferous(?) syn­ 1991).
orogenic sediments of the Aisajur Formation are In Misool, metaturbidites apparently similar to
folded but not metamorphosed. the Kemum Formation of the Bird's Head form
The mid Palaeozoic basement is succeeded the oldest recognized stratigraphic unit (the Ligu
unconformably by a platform sequence com­ Metamorphics: Pigram et al. 1982). Their age,
mencing with the Upper Carboniferous-Permian however, is uncertain, and Siluro-Devonian
Aifam Group. Further granitic intrusion into the (Pigram et al. 1982), Permian (Froidevaux 1974)
Kemum basement occurred during the Permo­ and Triassic (Simbolon et al. 1984) ages have been
Triassic (the Anggi Granite Suite), contem­ suggested for the sedimentary protolith. The oldest
poraneous with the deposition of the Aifam Group unmetamorphosed sequences in Misool are Triassic
and the succeeding Tipuma Formation, which is turbidites of the Keskain Formation, and partly
a red bed sequence of Triassic-Lower Jurassic age. contemporaneous Upper Triassic reefal limestones
In Irian Jaya generally the Tipuma Formation is of the Bogal Limestone Formation. The Bogal
succeeded by the Kembelangan Group of upper Limestone is overlain unconformably by Lower­
Lower Jurassic-Upper Cretaceous age. In the Middle Jurassic shales (Yefbie Shale), and these
northern Bird's Head the only element of the are in tum succeeded by Upper Jurassic shelf
Kembelangan Group recognized at outcrop is carbonates of the Ligu Formation and contem­
the Cretaceous Jass Formation (Pigram & Sukanta poraneous(?) shales of the Lelinta Shale Formation.
1982). This comprises calcareous and micaceous These pass up conformably into Cretaceous bathyal
mudstone with minor 1imestone and sandstone. limestones of the Facet Limestone Group (Gamta
Change ~f direction

Misool Salawati island Sele Bird's Head (j)

Straits Jef Li~1
Klamogun Klamumuk
(TBF·1X) IKlamonol Klawilis ~

2 ~
3 volcanics ~o(;\ '5.o\j.~ ~
«o(,~ 0~~0 t:C
4 km
o, ~'0-~ 0.0 0-<0

, , , ' SOkm
, ~0~ Z
Vertical exaggeration xS n
:::::::::::::::::: Palaeogene
~ Miocene shelf
0::::::::0 carbonate with ~ limestone facies
Miocene deepwater E',:":,,,::,,: '1 Plio­
:-:-:-:-::-::-:­ Quaternary
pinnacle reef (Klamogun Fm.)

Fig. 4. Cross-section through the Salawati Basin and pre-Tertiary subcrop (eastern part after Vincelette & Soepardjadi 1976). The Miocene Salawati
Basin had a depocentre beneath the present-day Sele main Plio-Quaternary depocentre between Salawati and Misool islands.


470 . T. R. CHARLTON

Salawati Basin Tomori Basin

SERIES North Bird's Head Misool Banggai-Sula East Sulawesi

>­ Miocene
<C Oligocene
~ Eocene


(f) Upper

a: Lower


I-:-::~----I.'. ' .. '. . .... ' ... ' ' .. ....,..~------.......

~ : .:: !!~u.m~. ~~r~.~ti?~ : .: . Elogal
~ Upper :':i' :..::.. . ::.:.:.....
:·:·.:'R·:· Limes ?:n.~:7~:":~:":-:7::-::-:-:
~ I-~~--r:. :... :.. ': :.:-::.. ': ·.R·-: .:.': ':':-: :.. + .~-:-~7~~~~~~~{~..:.~3t~J?: +
~ J--U...,:p...:.,p_e_r-l (Relationship with Ligu (Age of metamorphic + (Basement not seen)
Metamorphics uncertain) basement protolith
a: Lower
unknown) +

Shelf limestone

Deepwater limestone -
R Red beds

LL Marl
Z 00 Conglomerate
o ?~A" +
a: Lower
''':''.:'::''' _ IsaJur
. '-' ;.; . . . .. Formation + tz]
._. Siltstone V Acid volcanics

<C Periods of acid
U -­ igneous intrusion
.. Sandstone

Fig. S. Simplified stratigraphy of basement terranes beneath the Salawati and Tomori Basins. Primary data sources
for the Northern Bird's Head: Visser & Hermes (1962), Pieters et ai. (1983) and Pigram & Sukanta (1989); Misool:
Pigram et al. (1982) and Simbolon et al. (1984); Banggai-Sula: Garrard et al. (1988), Surono & Sukama (1993) and
Supandjono & Haryono (1993); East Sulawesi: Sirnandjuntak (1990), Cornee et al. (1994).

Limestone and Waaf Fonnation). The uppennost A number of petroleum exploration wells
Cretaceous is represented by shales passing located between the Bird's Head and Misool have
upwards into shelf limestones (the Fafanlap encountered the pre-basinal succession beneath the
Formation), which are succeeded conformably Salawati Basin. Broadly comparable sequences to
by Lower Palaeogene sandstones (the Daram those found in the Bird's Head and Misool were
Sandstone Fonnation). A shelf limestone sequence encountered, but significant differences include
equivalent to the New Guinea Limestone Group the presence of Jurassic section (post-Toarcian) in
of the Bird's Head follows conformably; this equivalents of the Kembelangan Group, and the
will be described in more detail in the following occurrence of volcanic breccias, volcaniclastic
section. sediments and tuffs in the Upper Cretaceous.

comprises a thin sequence of basal clastics

Tertiary stratigraphy
succeeded by shelf carbonates. The overlying
The older Tertiary succession of the Bird's Head­ Oligocene Sirga Formation is predominantly a
Misool region, which overlies Mesozoic and older clastic sequence consisting of sandstone and shale
rocks unconformably, is primarily developed in with minor limestone. The Sirga Formation was
limestone facies. In the Bird's Head this sequence deposited under neritic to epineritic conditions, and
forms the New Guinea Limestone Group (Visser & is up to about 200 m thick.
Hermes 1962; Pieters et al. 1983). The Tertiary of The oldest part of the truly basinal succession
this region is best known from the NW Bird's Head comprises a series of contemporaneously
and Salawati island, where it has been intensively developed Lower-Middle Miocene carbonate
studied during hydocarbon exploration. However, lithofacies, corresponding to a SE-NW transition
the Tertiary section of Misool also forms part of from shelf to deep-water environments (Figs 5
the marginal Salawati Basin succession. & 6). The shelf carbonates are assigned to the Kais
The Tertiary succession in the western Bird's Formation, and deep-water time equivalents form
Head and Salawati island (Fig. 6) commences the Klamogun Formation. The latter comprises
with the Faumai Formation, dated as upper Lower­ interbedded marly and flaggy limestones with
Upper Eocene (Gibson-Robinson et at. 1990), abundant planktonic foraminifera. The Kais
although lithological equivalents extend up into the Formation persisted into the Upper Miocene, but
Oligocene (Fig. 6; Pieters et al. 1983). The Faumai the Klamogun Formation was progressively
Formation, which is up to about 250 m thick, replaced by a shallowing-upward sequence of

Sele Con lomerate 0 0








28 Q) Q;
() :::l
0 Q;
34 ~

38 :u
40 :::l


Q) Q)
46 c:
0 :E



Igneous rocks MJga ~~~;t Pre-Tertiary (Silurian-U. Cretaceous)

Fig. 6. Stratigraphic comparison of the Salawati and Tomori Basins (Salawati Basin after Gibson-Robinson et al.
1990; Tomori Basin after Davies 1990, Handiwiria ]990 and Abimanyu 1990). The simpler, more laterally continuous
appearance of the Tomori Basin is probably an artefact of less intense exploration in that basin.

marl and siltstone (the Klasafet Formation). On conformably (Pigram et al. 1982; Simbolon et al.
the basinal flanks the shelfal Kais Formation is 1984). No equivalent of the Oligocene Sirga
typically 350 m thick, whilst the basinal Klamogun Formation is recognized, this time period being
Formation is 1159 m thick and the Klasafet represented by an unconformity possibly associated
Formation about ] 925 m thick in their respective with minor folding. As in the Bird's Head, the
type sections (Visser & Hermes 1962). Pinnacle Lower Miocene is represented by contemporaneous
reefs developed locally near the shelf-slope break shelf carbonates (the Openta Limestone) and a
during the Middle-Upper Miocene, and these somewhat deeper water sequence (the Kasim Marl)
extend the typical thickness of the Kais Formation which consists of well bedded marly and sandy
by up to 533 m (Gibson-Robinson et al. 1990). limestones containing planktonic foraminifera. The
The second, clastic, basinal sequence is repre­ Openta Limestone extends up into the Middle
sented primarily by the Pliocene Klasaman Miocene, but the Upper Miocene is absent. The
Formation. This consists of interbedded sandy Pliocene-Quaternary Atkari Formation overlies the
calcareous mudstone and argillaceous sandstone Openta Limestone unconformably. In contrast to
with minor conglomerate and lignite. This time equivalents in the Bird's Head, the Atkari
sequence has a maximum thickness of about Formation is predominantly a shelf carbonate
4500 m (Visser & Hermes 1962; Pieters et al. sequence.
1983). It is succeeded unconformably by the Sele
Conglomerate of Quaternary age.
The Tomori Basin
In Misool (Fig. 5) the Upper Palaeocene­
Oligocene(?) Zaag Limestone, which is approxi­ The Tomori Basin is located off the east coast of
mately the equivalent of the Faumai Formation in Sulawesi island (Fig. 7). Unlike the intensively
the Bird's Head, succeeds the Daram Sandstone explored Salawati Basin, the Tomori Basin is a

~ Continental
L:......:J cover ••• Subsurtace limit of
~ Continental .... East Sulawesi
~basement ... Ophiolite

Fig. 7. The Tomori Basin, east Sulawesi. Structure of Tolo Gulf after Davies (1990). Basin isopachs in km adapted
from Hamilton (1979) taking into account later drilling data. Onshore geology simplified from GRDC mapping.

region of frontier hydrocarbon exploration with Figure 8 shows two cross-sections through
only ten wells drilled to date. These are all located the western margin of the Tomori Basin; one in the
along the western margin of the basin, either on north through the Minahaki well, the other in the
the coastal plains of east Sulawesi or immediately south through the Tiaka field (Fig. 7). The northern
offshore. and southern halves of the basin have very different
structural styles, and also significantly different
timing of deformation. The southern part of the
Structural setting
basin is characterized by thrust faults, whilst the
Figure 7 shows a Tertiary isopach map for the northern part is characterized by normal and
Tomori Basin based on the contouring of Hamilton wrench faulting (Davies 1990). There is also a
(1979), but modified in the light of the more recent marked change in the strike of thrust structures,
well data. The basin has a triangular or T-shaped from SW-NE in the east Sulawesi orogenic belt
map plan, probably reflecting two stages in the west of the northern basin, to nearly N-S in the
basinal evolution. In the north, the NE-SW south, offshore in the Tolo Gulf (Fig. 7). In the
elongation of the basin corresponds closely to the southern foldbelt, section as young as the Lower
thrust front of the east Sulawesi fold-and-thrust Pliocene Kintom Formation (described later) is
belt, and it has been suggested (e.g. Davies 1990; affected by thrusting (Fig. 8b), whilst in the north
Handiwiria 1990) that this portion of the Tomori there is no clear evidence for active thrusting
Basin originated as the foreland basin to this during deposition of this unit (Fig. 8a). In the north
orogenic belt. The NW-SE prolongation of the the dip of sediments in the Kintom and Bia
basin does not have such an obvious origin. It will Formations away from the orogenic front suggests
be suggested later that this trend marks the former post-orogenic molasse-type deposition. The only
connection between the Tomori and Salawati faulting recognized on the northern cross-section
Basins. is normal faulting down throwing west toward the

NW "" ~km Min~ki-1 SE a


Fig. 8. Sketch cross-sections through the western margin of the Tomori Basin based on seismic sections figured by
Davies (1990), Abimanyu (1990) and Handiwiria (1990). (a) Section through the Minahaki-l well in the north of the
basin. (b) Through the Tiaka field in the south of the basin. Note different horizontal and vertical scales. Horizontal
scales were not included in the original figures and are therefore approximate. See Fig. 7 for locations.

mountain front. This only affects rocks as young as accurately (Garrard, pers. comm.). The present
the Miocene (and older) Salodik Group, and could author has also examined outcrops of the Nofanini
be interpreted as downfaulting in the foreland Limestone, and they appear directly comparable to
associated with development of the east Sulawesi reef limestones also provisionally dated as Upper
orogenic belt. This is consistent with the usual Triassic from the Tanimbar islands.
dating of orogenesis in this region as approxi­ The Nofanini Formation is succeeded by or is
mately Middle Miocene (e.g. Davies 1990). partly contemporaneous with red beds of the
However, the younger, Pliocene, deformation seen Bobong Formation. This is dated as Lower-Middle
in the south does not seem to have significantly Jurassic by Surono & Sukarna (1993) and
affected the northern region. The timing and Supandjono & Haryono (1993), but it may range as
significance of this deformation history will be old as Upper Triassic (Garrard et al. 1988). Marine
discussed in more detail later. transgression occurred during the Toarcian (e.g.
As in the Salawati Basin, most of the variation in Sato et al. 1978), and subsequently during the rest
total stratigraphic thickness of the Tomori Basin is of the Jurassic and the early part of the Cretaceous
accounted for by the Plio-Quaternary, predomi­ (at least to the Hauterivian) a sequence of claystone
nantly clastic, sequences. Thickness variations in and marl with minor limestone accumulated (the
the Miocene succession are less marked, but there Buya Formation). Above this, apparently after a
is a general southward thickening from about mid Cretaceous hiatus, are deep-water chalky lime­
600-650 m in the northern wells to more than stones of the Tanamu Formation. This ranges in
1000 m in the south (where the foldbelt deforma­ age from at least the Santonian until the Upper
tion makes precise estimation of true stratigraphic Palaeocene (Garrard et al. 1988). Succeeding this
thickness from well sections more difficult). Pre­ in the Banggai islands are Eocene-Middle Miocene
Miocene sedimentary section is absent from the shelf carbonates of the Salodik Formation. Further
north of the basin, and is only 60-90 m thick in east, in the Sula islands, the Palaeogene is absent
the central basin. The pre-Miocene has not been according to the mapping of Surono & Sukarna
penetrated by drilling in the south of the basin, (1993), although Garrard (pers. comm.) has
although it is recognized in the subsurface from obtained Palaeogene ages from samples collected
seismic data (R.A. Garrard, pers. comm.). Thus, in Mangole island. Shelf limestones equivalent to
as in the Salawati Basin, basinal subsidence the upper part of the Salodik Formation were
commenced at the beginning of the Lower deposited in this area during the Lower-Middle
Miocene, at least in the northern and central Miocene.
portions of the Tomori Basin. Dolerite dykes have been recorded locally
intruding the Banggai Granite and the Jurassic
Bobong Formation. Their age has not as yet been
Pre-basinal stratigraphy
better constrained than post-dating deposition of
Pre-basinal sequences forming the 'basement' of the Bobong Formation (Surono & Sukarna 1993;
the Tomori Basin are exposed on the Banggai and Supandjono & Haryono 1993).
Sula islands to the east, and are imbricated in the In the east Sulawesi fold-and-thrust belt, two
east Sulawesi fold-and-thrust belt to the west. In distinct stratigraphic sequences are imbricated
Banggai and Sula (Fig. 5) the oldest rocks recog­ together: a parautochthonous sequence of con­
nized include unnamed mica schist and gneiss, tinental origin with affinities to the Banggai-Sula
lower grade metasediments (the Menanga sequence described above; and an allochthonous
Formation) and granitic intrusives (the Banggai sequence related to the obducted east Sulawesi
Granites). The age of the sedimentary proto lith is ophiolite. Only the parautochthonous sequence is
unknown, but schists on Peleng island have yielded described here (Fig. 5) as the allochthonous
Carboniferous radiometric ages (305 ± 6 Ma: sequence has only limited relevance to the Tomori
Sukamto 1975), interpreted as the age of meta­ Basin.
morphism. The granites have yielded Late In the parautochthonous sequence basement has
Permian-Triassic radiometric ages (Pigram et al. not been recognized. The oldest sedimentary rocks
1985), and are probably cogenetic with acid are of Triassic age, and comprise contemporaneous
volcanics (the Mangole Volcanics) of probable hemipelagic carbonates (the Tokala Formation) and
Triassic age (radiometric ages of 210 ± 25 Ma turbiditic sandstone-shale sequences (the Bunta
and 330 ± 90 Ma: Sukamto 1975). Formation) (Katili 1978; Rusmana et ai. 1986).
The oldest unmetamorphosed sedimentary rocks Recently Upper Triassic reefal facies have also
in the Banggai and Sula islands are probably reefal been identified (Cornee et al. 1994). These are
limestones of the Nofanini Formation. These were succeeded by Lower Jurassic conglomeratic sand­
interpreted by Garrard et al. (1988) as Upper stones with shale and coal (the Nanaka Formation)
Triassic, although they have not been dated and Middle-Upper Jurassic limestones and marls

(the Nambo and Tetambahu formations) (Surono of the basin this sequence comprises shelfal
et al. 1987; Simandjuntak 1990). argillaceous limestones passing up into dolomitized
In the Cretaceous two formations (the Luok and limestones with coal interbeds. In the south the
Matano Formations) have been recognized through undifferentiated Tomori Formation comprises
regional geological mapping. Both consist of deeper water carbonates lacking coal interbeds.
relatively deep-water carbonate-shale-chert The Middle Miocene Matindok Formation,
sequences, and the two have been interpreted as comprising claystone and sandstone with minor
more proximal and more distal facies within a low limestone and coal, overlies the Tomori Formation
energy sedimentary environment (T. Simandjuntak, conformably (Handiwiria 1990). This is in tum
pers. comm.). The Luok Formation is dated as succeeded conformably by the essentially Upper
Turonian-Maastrichtian in age (Rusmana et al. Miocene Minahaki Formation which marks a return
1984). It is succeeded unconformably by shelf to shelf carbonate deposition. Pinnacle reefs occur
carbonates of Lower Eocene-Lower Miocene age in the north of the basin (the Mantawa Member)
which, as in the Banggai islands, are assigned to and claystone interbeds in the south, again
the Salodik Formation (Simandjuntak 1990). In suggesting deepening of the palaeoenvironment
the Eocene and Oligocene, deeper water marl with to the south.
limestone intercalations has been mapped as the The Pliocene-Recent succession is composed
Poh Formation (Rusmana et ai. 1984; Surono et al. predominantly of clastics assigned to the Sulawesi
1987). The Salodik and Poh formations have been Group (Abimanyu 1990). The Lower Pliocene
placed within are-defined Salodik Group by Kintom Formation, which apparently succeeds the
Handiwiria (1990). The Salodik Group is Minahaki Formation without significant hiatus,
succeeded unconformably by molassic sediments consists of sandstone and claystone grading up into
of the Sulawesi Group (Abimanyu 1990). The conglomerate and sandstone. This is succeeded
Salodik and Sulawesi groups as recognized in the conformably by the Upper Pliocene Bia (or Biak)
offshore Tomori Basin will be described in more Formation, composed of conglomerate and sand­
detail in the following section. stone. The Quaternary Kalomba Formation, which
Pre-basinal basement has been penetrated in is also composed largely of conglomerate, follows
several exploration wells drilled through the unconformably. This developed contempor­
Tomori Basin (Davies 1990; Handiwiria 1990). , aneously with the Luwuk Formation which is a
Three wells in the north of the basin (Matindok-l, reef limestone sequence.
Minahaki-l, Mantawa-l) encountered intrusive
igneous rocks, whilst the Tiaka-2 well in the central
portion of the basin penetrated quartz-mica schist,
Correlation of the Tomori and
dated radiometrically as Middle-Late Triassic
(224 ± 9 Ma: Handiwiria 1990). Wells in the south Salawati Basins
of the basin did not reach basement except for The following points of correlation can be recog­
Dongkala-l which penetrated an ophiolitic nized between the Salawati and Tomori Basins:
sequence. This is believed to be part of the over­
thrust and allochthonous east Sulawesi ophiolite • Both basins are underlain by continental base­
rather than pre-basinal basement related to the ment consisting of Palaeozoic(?) metasediments
Banggai-Sula microcontinent (Davies 1990). No intruded by Carboniferous-Triassic granites.
unmetamorphosed pre-Tertiary sedimentary rocks • Comparable unmetamorphosed Mesozoic sedi­
have yet been encountered beneath the Tomori mentary sequences subcrop the basins or outcrop
Basin. nearby. Common stratigraphic features include
the occurrence of reef limestones of probable
Upper Triassic age in east Sulawesi, Sula and
Basinal stratigraphy Misool; Upper Triassic turbidites in east
The oldest sedimentary rocks recognized through Sulawesi and Misool; Triassic-Lower Jurassic
exploration drilling in the Tomori Basin are red beds in Banggai-Sula and the Bird's Head;
assigned to the lower member of the Tomori Toarcian transgression followed by Middle­
Formation (Fig. 6). This consists of a thin basal Upper Jurassic shales in Misool and Banggai­
clastic sequence succeeded by shelf carbonates, Sula; Upper Jurassic limestones in east Sulawesi
dated as Upper Eocene-Lower Oligocene in age and Misool; mid Cretaceous hiatuses in Banggai­
(Handiwiria 1990). The unconformably succeeding Sula, the Bird's Head and possibly east Sulawesi;
middle and upper members of the Tomori and deep-water Cretaceous limestones in Misool,
Formation are essentially Lower Miocene in age, Banggai-Sula and east Sulawesi. In addition, it is
although they include Upper Oligocene sediments possible that the Late Cretaceous granite of the
in one well (Minahaki-l). In the north and centre Bird's Head and volcanic/volcaniclastic rocks in

Misool and offshore to the east might correlate Klasafet Formation decreases southward away
with the as yet undated but post-Middle Jurassic from the Sorong fault (Visser & Hermes 1962;
dolerites of Banggai-Sula. Pieters et al. 1983), suggesting a clastic sedi­
• Tertiary sedimentation commenced in the Tomori mentary source to the north or west. In the
Basin and the eastern Salawati Basin (Salawati Tomori Basin the Middle Miocene Matindok
island and the western Bird's Head) during the Formation is recognized in all parts of the basin
Eocene with thin transgressive clastics succeeded so far drilled, but it thickens considerably and the
by shelf carbonates. In both basins, however, the palaeoenvironment deepens to the south towards
base of the Tertiary is strongly diachronous, the South Sula fault.
ranging from upper Lower Eocene-Lower • During the Late Miocene there was a return to
Miocene in the eastern Salawati Basin, and at shelf carbonate sedimentation in the Tomori
least Upper Eocene-Lower Miocene in the Basin. On the southern flank of the eastern
Tomori Basin (Fig. 6). In Misool the basal Salawati Basin carbonate shelf sedimentation had
clastics (the Daram Sandstone) are thicker continued without significant interruption from
(about 50 m: Pigram et al. 1982) and as old as the Early-Middle Miocene. Isolated patch and
Palaeocene. The succeeding shelf carbonates pinnacle reefs are recorded in both basins at this
(Zaag Limestone) may also be locally as old as time.
Palaeocene. Older Tertiary section may underlie • Carbonate sedimentation and growth of the
the southern part of the Tomori Basin, but this economically important patch and pinnacle reefs
has not yet been penetrated by exploration became areally restricted in both the Tomori and
drilling. Salawati basins near the Miocene-Pliocene
• A break in predominant Tertiary carbonate sedi­ boundary. The Pliocene Klasaman Formation of
mentation occurred in both basins in the mid the eastern Salawati Basin corresponds approxi­
Oligocene. In the eastern Salawati Basin this was mately with the Kintom and Bia formations of
marked by deposition of the clastic Sirga the Tomori Basin. Both sequences show an
Formation, whilst to the west in Misool there is overall coarsening-upward, from predominant
an unconformity possibly associated with minor claystone at the base to more sandy and con­
folding. In the Tomori Basin a mid Oligocene glomeratic facies at the top. Shelf carbonate
unconformity separates the lower and middle facies persisted into the Plio-Quaternary of
members of the Tomori Formation. Misool (the Atkari Formation) and the Luwuk
• Prior to the mid Oligocene break in carbonate Formation of the southern Tomori Basin.
sedimentation both the Salawati and Tomori • A strongly erosional base Pleistocene uncon­
regions were accumulating relatively thin shelf formity is recognized in both basins. A succeed­
sequences: the Faumai Formation is about 250 m ing conglomeratic unit is also recognised in both
thick in the eastern Salawati Basin (Visser & areas: the Sele Formation in the Salawati Basin,
Hermes 1962; Pieters et al. 1983), and the lower and the Kalomba Formation in the Tomori Basin.
member of the Tomori Formation is up to 100m • In addition to stratigraphic similarities, the
thick (Handiwiria 1990). Truly basinal succes­ Salawati and Tomori Basins share common
sions did not begin to accumulate in both areas hydrocarbon kerogen characteristics (SPTI
until the Early Miocene. In the eastern Salawati Pertamina 1992). In both cases an anoxic,
Basin the Lower-Middle Miocene consists of restricted marine carbonate or calcareous shale
contemporaneous shelf (Kais Formation) and sequence is the suspected source rock (Robinson
basinal (Klamogun Formation) limestones, with 1987). In the Salawati Basin this is either the
basinal deepening to the NW, towards the Sorong Lower Miocene Klamogun Formation (Robinson
fault. In the Tomori Basin, shelf carbonates are 1987) or the Upper Miocene Klasafet Formation
found in the north, with more basinal limestones (Livingstone 1992). In the Tomori Basin the
in the south, towards the South Sula fault. The source sequence is probably the Lower Miocene
Miocene section in the northwestern part of the middle member of the Tomori Formation (Davies
eastern Salawati Basin is more than 2000 m thick 1990; Handiwiria 1990).
(e.g. Vincelette & Soepardjadi 1976), and is more
than 1000 m thick in the southern Tomori Basin
(Handiwiria 1990).
Regional tectonic implications
• In the Middle Miocene fine-grained siliciclastics
began to accumulate in both basins. In the eastern Figure 9 shows a possible reconstruction of the
Salawati Basin the Middle-Upper Miocene eastern Sulawesi-western New Guinea (Bird's
partly clastic Klasafet Formation progressively Head) region prior to development of the Sorong
replaces the deep-water carbonate Klamogun fault zone. The primary control on this recon­
Formation. The proportion of siltstone in the struction is the alignment of the Salawati and

- 3 - Tertiary isopach (km) ~ Australian

• Allochthonous

Basin >2km sediment r+:"'+1 Australian basement


Fig. 9. Reconstruction of the Bird's Head-Sula-Banggai-East Sulawesi region prior to development of the Sorong
fault. The Bird's Heads block is drawn in its present-day orientation with respect to north. In order to keep SW Obi as
an identifiable body, the inferred wrench faults bounding this terrane have not beeen restored.

Tomori basinal depocentres. However, as the in particular shows little evidence of fault-related
Salawati Basin has a double depocentre, there is deformation prior to the Early Pliocene, it is likely
some ambiguity as to which depocentres should that movement on the Sorong fault zone occurred
be aligned. Both alignments give a reasonable primarily during the Pliocene and Quaternary
correlation of the basin isopachs, but placing the periods. The precise age of the onset of clastic
Tomori Basin north of the eastern (Sele Straits) sedimentation in the Salawati Basin has not been
depocentre of the Salawati Basin (Fig. 9) gives stated in the published literature, but a stratigraphic
a more plausible basemap for palaeogeographic column illustrated by Livingstone (1992) indicates
reconstructions (such as that for the Miocene the earliest deposition of the clastic Klasafet
described below see Fig. 10). The net offset on Formation in the Upper Miocene. Livingstone
the Sorong fault zone based on this reconstruction (1992) also showed an idealized burial plot for the
is about 900 km. Waipili-l well in the northern part of Salawati
The Salawati and Tomori Basins show strong island which indicates that the top of the Kais
stratigraphic similarities up until fairly recent platform sequence began to subside rapidly
times, and this probably indicates that offset of the between 6-7 Ma ago. This might indicate the
two half-basins occurred relatively recently. The time at which the Sorong fault system began to
restored composite basin in Fig. 9 is roughly develop.
elliptical in shape, with an oblique orientation A further constraint on the age of the Sorong
suggestive of a strain ellipse resulting from left­ fault zone comes from regional plate tectonics. It
lateral shear parallel to the Sorong fault zone. This was suggested earlier that the orientation of the
probably suggests that the basin was formed fault system parallel to the relative convergence
largely as a result of transtension on the Sorong vector between the Pacific and Indo-Australian
system. As most of the Tertiary stratigraphic thick­ plates indicates that the present-day Sorong system
ness that gives rise to the elliptical shape is acts as a transcurrent boundary between these two
accounted for by the Plio-Quaternary clastic plates (Fig. 1). The motion of Australia relative to
sequences, and additionally as the Salawati Basin the Pacific in this region is at a rate of 128 km Ma- 1

on a bearing of 068° (using the Euler poles of earlier than the usually accepted Middle Miocene
Minster & Jordan 1978). At this rate the 900 km age (e.g. Davies 1990).
displacement would be achieved in a period of There is, however, a discrepancy between the age
7 Ma. Assuming that plate motion has been of the east Sulawesi orogen as inferred from
constant through this period, this provides a onshore geology (which suggests important
minimum age for the Sorong system. This estimate orogenesis during the Middle Miocene or earlier)
is very similar to the commencement of subsidence and the offshore seismic and well data which
in the Salawati Basin indicated by Livingstone indicates fold-and-thrust belt development in the
(1992). Tolo Gulf during the Pliocene (Davies 1990). As
The absence of significant pre-Pliocene faulting, already described, the strike of the Tolo Gulf fold­
together with the largely non-clastic nature of the and-thrust belt is markedly oblique to that of the
Miocene basin fill, suggests that the Miocene orogenic belt onshore in east Sulawesi. It appears
carbonate basin pre-dated (and is therefore that there were two distinct phases of development
genetically unrelated to) the development of the in the east Sulawesi orogen: an earlier pre-Middle
Sorong fault system. Figure 10 shows a possible Miocene phase which gave rise to a foreland basin
interpretation of the Miocene basinal palaeo­ on its eastern flank (the Miocene Salawati-Tomori
geography based on extrapolating the well estab­ Basin), and a later phase of fold-and-thrust belt
lished palaeoenvironments of the Salawati Basin development during the Pliocene. The earlier phase
into the Tomori Basin, and taking into account the of deformation arose from arc-continent collision
limited geological data from Banggai-Sula and east (Davies 1990), whilst the Pliocene deformation is
Sulawesi. It would seem reasonable from Fig. 10 probably related to the westward translation of
that the combined Salawati-Tomori Basin origin­ eastern Sulawesi in the Sorong fault system. The
ated at least in part as the foreland basin to the east Southeast Arm of Sulawesi shows clear structural
Sulawesi orogenic belt. If this interpretation is and stratigraphic similarities with the East Arm,
correct, then the clear evidence from the Salawati and probably formed a direct continuation of the
Basin for strong basinal subsidence in the Lower the east Sulawesi orogenic belt prior to the
Miocene suggests that orogenesis was underway Pliocene. The Tolo Gulf foldbelt probably
in east Sulawesi by this time. This is somewhat developed contemporaneously with oroclinal
bending of eastern Sulawesi, with the Southeast
Arm rotating anticlockwise with respect to the
East Arm.
In addition to the Bird's Head and eastern
v--,r--L--rl. ALLOCHTHON
Sulawesi, three displaced terranes are provisionally
repositioned in Fig. 9. These terranes are relocated
':-r-..p--.-I EjJCARBONATE SHELF to give the tightest geographic fit consistent with
the regional geology. Banggai and most of the Sula
pinnacle reefs) islands are treated as a single terrane which is fixed
L:..:~-:-jBASINAL relative to eastern Sulawesi and the Tomori Basin.
The positioning of Banggai-Sula is thus largely
defined by the re-positioning of the Tomori Basin
north of the Salawati Basin. However, some
freedom remains as to body rotation, and in Fig. 9
Banggai-Sula (and eastern Sulawesi) have been
rotated about 15° anticlockwise relative to the
Bird's Head in order to achieve the tightest
geographic fit. If, as is likely, the Bird's Head­
Misool block has itself undergone body rotations
relative to Australia during the Neogene, the
inferred 15° rotation of Banggai-Sula would be
additional to that in the Bird's Head.
The second displaced terrane in Fig. 9 comprises
Sulabesi island, eastern Mangole and the south­
western part of Obi island. The boundaries of this
terrane may be a simplification: Mangole island is
cut obliquely by a number of ENE-WSW trending
Fig. 10. Miocene palaeogeography of the eastern steep faults which may be left-lateral faults (as
Salawati Basin (after Gibson-Robinson et al. 1990) suggested in the restoration) or could be normal
extrapolated into the repositioned Tomori Basin. faults. In Fig. 9 Sulabesi is restored by reversing

an assumed anticlockwise rotation of about 90° Implications for hydrocarbon exploration

relative to Banggai-Sula and also relative to eastern
The reconstructions in Figs 9 & 10 may also have
Mangole. Sulabesi and eastern Mangole are then
some implications for future oil exploration i~
translated about 175 km eastward relative to this region. In the Salawati Basin, nearly all 011
Banggai-Sula (cf. 180 km displacement without production is from pinnacle reefs which developed
rotation estimated by Garrard et al. 1988, based near the shelf-slope break around a semi-enclosed
on the similarity of structural style and the nature Miocene basin. If this palaeogeography can be
of Jurassic sediments in Sulabesi and the Taliabu
extrapolated into the repositioned Tomori Basin as
Shelf immediately west of the Sula islands). suggested in Fig. 10, then the belt of pinnacle reefs
The third displaced terrane in Fig. 9 is the
should follow the eastern margin of the basin to
Tamrau Terrane of the northern Bird's Head. Most the south and west of the Banggai island group. In
authors (e.g. Pigram & Davies 1987) have
addition, it now seems widely agreed that the
interpreted very large displacements between the primary source rocks for the Salawati oils are
Tamrau Terrane and the Bird's Head, in part based
Miocene deep marine and poorly oxygenated
on the apparent necessity of accommodating the
calcareous mudstones and/or marly limestones
large strike-slip offsets of the Sorong fault zone to
which were deposited either contemporaneously
the west on the single fault strand of the Sorong
with or immediately above the Kais pinnacle reefs.
fault. However, the geology of the Tamrau Terrane
It is probably more than coincidence that these
is not greatly different from that of the Bird's Head
restricted basinal sediments were deposited in the
(cf. Visser & Hermes 1962), and it is suggested that
semi-enclosed Miocene Salawati embayment (Fig.
the Tamrau Terrane can be repositioned by a rela­
10). The palaeogeographic map also indicates that
tively small eastward translation of about 60 km.
a similar embayment would be expected at the
This would place the Netoni Igneous Complex
northern end of the Tomori Basin, and such a
(Pieters et al. 1981) north of the Anggi Granites of
restricted basin might well be the source for oil and
the eastern Bird's Head, and re-aligns the eastern
gas discoveries along the western flank of the
end of the Tarnrau Terrane with the eastern edge Tomori Basin. However, the predominant structure
of the continental Bird's Head block. (It has been
of the northern Tomori Basin is that of a foreland
suggested by several authors that the Netoni Block
basin, and any oil generated in this region would be
is itself a distinct 'mini terrane' within the Sorong
more likely to migrate updip towards the foreland;
fault; however, the overlap of the Cretaceous Amiri
that is towards the postulated pinnacle reef trend
Sandstone across the supposed Tamrau-Netoni
on the eastern flank of the Tomori Basin.
terrane boundary (Hartono et al. 1989) does not
Unfortunately, most of the extrapolated pinnacle
support this distinction). . .. . reef trend lies under water depths of 1000­
A consequence of this relatIvely Inruted dis­
2000 m, and is therefore unlikely to be a com­
placement on the Sorong fault through the Bird's
mercial prospect with present-day economics.
Head is that most of the movement on the Sorong
system must be taken up north of the Tarnrau
Terrane. In Fig. 9 most of the inferred left-lateral This work was initiated as part of the London University
movement is taken up along the northern edge of study of the Sorong fault zone under the leadership of
the Tamrau Terrane such that Sulabesi island is Prof. Robert Hall. Fieldwork in this area was sponsored
by the Royal Society, NERC grant GR317149 and the
re-positioned immediately northwest of the Tamr~u London University Consortium for Geological Research
Terrane. This aligns N-S trending normal faults m in Southeast Asia. Thanks to Chris Gibson-Robinson and
the Sula islands with similar faulting on the eastern Peter Lunt (Petromer Trend Corp.) and Andy Livsey
flank of the Salawati Basin, and also juxtaposes the (Simon Petroleum Technology, Jakarta) for useful
Jurassic-Cretaceous shale sequences of the Sula discussions, and to Tony Barber (Royal Holloway
islands with comparable sequences in the Tarnrau University of London) and Dick Garrard (ARCO) for
Terrane. useful comments in review.

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