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A Comparison of the Plate Tectonic Evolution and Modern Political Trends in Australasia: Is Geology Influencing Modern Human Development?

Longley, Ian M.
Exploration, GIS-Pax, Perth, WA, Australia.

The geological evolution of Australasia comprises the rifting of Mesozoic continental blocks from Gondwana which migrated across Tethys and agglomerated the Pre-Tertiary core of SE Asia on the south Eastern edge of Eurasia. During the Tertiary this area was modified by various forces, in particular the arrival of India in the west and the buttress effect of the Chinese craton to the north, which produced many prolific hydrocarbon basins. The older pre-Tertiary geology although buried had a pronounced influence of the development of the later Tertiary basins and late in the Tertiary the Australian craton moves northwards colliding with SE Asia and causing local inversion and modification of some basins. This collision will continue and magnify well into the geological future and ultimately Australia and SE Asia will suture into one tectonic plate.

Similarly the modern political history of Australasia comprises the arrival of many colonial elements from Europe who dominated and built the modern political landscape of the region. These have been modified by the fallout from World War II with the establishment of independent countries which have mostly experienced sustained periods of economic western development and prosperity in ways strongly influenced by their different pre-colonial cultures and by their location between the cultural and emerging economic superpowers of China and India. Australia with its colonial focus and isolationist "White Australia" policy arrived late into Asia and has only in the last few decades embraced Asia as its future. As per the geological analogy Australia's political and social development future in time will be a full integration with Asia.

The remarkably similar geological and modern political evolutionary stories emphasise that Asia and Australia have a lot to learn from each other and the presentation outlines the positive geological and human elements that might be shared.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90155©2012 AAPG International Conference & Exhibition, Singapore, 16-19 September 2012