Active detachment faulting controls folding and faulting in western Borneo, SE Asia


The origin of active deformation and structural evolution in large areas of Western Borneo has been highly debated, with two contrasting views involving gravitational tectonics and plate tectonics. The scarcity of field data on land has significantly hampered our understanding of the onshore structures and their relationship with those of the offshore regions. The Baram Delta province is one of the best examples in SE Asia, where debates on the origin and evolution of active tectonic versus gravitational tectonic structures are broadly associated with the complexity of faults and folds in Brunei and Sarawak (Malaysia). In this paper, we present the results of the first large-scale satellite-based structural mapping and the detailed outcrop-based structural mapping in Brunei Darussalam. The results of the satellite-based mapping reveal a major ∼NE-SW trending detachment fault in Brunei and adjacent regions, which is termed the Tutoh fault, with numerous associated secondary faults and folds. The fault acts as a detachment structure onto which several NW-SE trending faults ramp and have asymmetrical folds showing an en echelon fold-fault system. The topographic expression and the recent strike-slip faulting event on the Tutoh fault system suggest that the fault remains active, challenging the discourse that gravitational tectonics is the only cause of active deformation in Borneo.

Journal of Asian Earth Sciences: X