This chapter of the bibliography contains about 265 pages with 2132 titles on the Borneo region, about 1223 of which are from the Indonesian side, Kalimantan. It is subdivided in four chapters:

  1. IV.1. Kalimantan/ Borneo General
  2. IV.2. East Kalimantan Cenozoic Basins, (bio-)stratigraphy
  3. IV.3. North Borneo  (Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei)
  4. IV.4. Makassar Straits

Download pdf - Chapter IV. BORNEO (2.95 MB)

The island of Borneo is subdivided among three countries, Indonesian Kalimantan in the South and Brunei and East Malaysia (Sarawak and Sabah) in the North. Although the absence of present-day major earthquakes and active volcanism makes it look like a relatively stable block, its Cretaceous- Miocene history is one of great tectonic activity.

  Early sketch map of Borneo, showing distribution of Jurassic-Cretaceous oceanic deposits of the Danau Fm (Molengraaff 1909)  
Early sketch map of Borneo, showing distribution of Jurassic-Cretaceous oceanic deposits of the Danau Fm (Molengraaff 1909)

IV.1., IV.2. Borneo (General, Kalimantan, Mahakam Delta)

Borneo consists of a core of Paleozoic or older continental crust metamorphic rocks in the SW part of the island. The 'traditional' interpretation has been SW Kalimantan is part of the 'Sundaland' complex of Gondwana-derived plates (together with South China, Indochina, East Malaya) that had been part of Eurasia since the Permian-Triassic (e.g. Metcalfe 1987). More recently it was proposed to be a separate microplate that broke off the NW Australia margin as late as Jurassic ('Argoland'; Hall et al. 2009, Metcalfe 2010). This requires that the NW part of Kalimantan is a separate microplate (Semitau Block of Metcalfe (2010), because its Late Carboniferous- Jurassic faunas clearly belong in the 'Cathaysian' realm, not Gondwana. Debate on this will undoubtedly continue.

Paleomagnetic data suggest SW Borneo has been near the equator at least since the Jurassic, and rotated counterclockwise by about 90° since the Jurassic, about 50° since the Cretaceous. These results have been consistent between three separate academic groups and are therefore rather compelling.

The SW Borneo continental terrane is intruded by a belt of late Early Cretaceous Schwaner Mts granite batholiths (~100-130 Ma; Williams et al. 1989), which are the exhumed deeper parts of a volcanic arc that formed above a South-dipping subduction of the 'Proto-China Sea' oceanic plate.

Younger arc volcanics include a Late Cretaceous (Campanian; ~75-80 Ma) belt of smaller granite plutons in the Kalimantan- Sarawak border area and possible multiple Tertiary belts, like the Middle Eocene Nyaan Volcanics. The youngest and best-defined belt is the Late Oligocene- Early Miocene (~30-16 Ma) Sintang Intrusives belt, which is associated with several gold mines.

The N side of the SW Borneo continental core is a series of Cretaceous-Miocene accretionary complexes. The oldest of these is the (Late Jurassic?-) Early Cretaceous melange of radiolarian cherts, red siliceous shales and ultrabasic rocks ('Danau Fm' of Molengraaff, 1910), also called Semitau/ Selangkai/ Boyan Melange, Kapuas Complex, Telen- Kelinjau melange, etc.) (see also next chapter on N Borneo). This old melange belt may continue East as far as the Mangkalihat Peninsula (often portrayed as a microcontinental block, but nearest Pre-Tertiary outcrops and well penetrations look more like 'Danau melange').

N-S cross-section Semitau area, NW Kalimantan
N-S cross-section Semitau area, NW Kalimantan (Molengraaf 1915).


N-S cross-section Sarawak-N Kalimantan
N-S cross-section Sarawak-N Kalimantan border area (Molengraaf 1915). Showing from left: intensely deformed; 'Old Slate Fm' (2) of Upper Kapuas Mts,  folded Mesozoic Danua Fm (3), unconformably overlain by Cretaceous claystone (12a) and Tertiary sandstone Fm (16) and volcanics (32).

The Meratus Mountains in SE Kalimantan, with its outcrops of melange and serpentinites and associated oceanic crust rocks, have long been regarded as a suture zone between colliding continental blocks at the SE edge of Sundaland. There is indeed ample evidence of mid-Cretaceous age (~90 Ma) ophiolite obduction, with a blueschist-grade metamorphic sole, but the ophiolite sheet is nearly flat and it is not clear (1) whether the subduction zone was NW or SE dipping, and (2) what collided here. The present relief of the Meratus Mountains is the result of post-Middle Miocene uplift, and does not necessarily parallel Cretaceous basement grain.

The melange below the ophiolite contains radiolarian cherts, varying in age from early Middle Jurassic to late Early Cretaceous, representing the ages of the pelagic cover scraped off during subduction. This suggests the age of subducted oceanic crust was at least partly older than M Jurassic ('Meso-Tethys' oceanic plate). Ophiolite obduction in the Meratus Mountains was followed by a period of Late Cretaceous arc volcanism, mainly in a marine environment.

The E-W trending Melawi and Ketungau sedimentary basins formed across C Kalimantan, probably mainly in the Early Tertiary, and may link to the West Kutai basin. The Melawi Basin is probably older than the Ketungau Basin, and the two are separated by the Late Cretaceous 'Boyan melange'/ 'Semitau High'. Heryanto (1991) interpreted these as forearc basins between N-migrating uplifted accretionary prisms, filled with clastics derived from these uplifting Boyan and Lubuk Antu accretionary complexes in the North. Thick sandstones and non-marine and brackish-water facies make dating difficult.

The Kutai Basin of E Kalimantan probably has the thickest sediment fill (12-14 km) of all Indonesian basins. It has been suggested that parts are underlain by oceanic crust (Wain & Berod,1989, Moss 1998). Part of the accommodation was tied to extension during the M Eocene and younger rifting of the Makassar Straits, but parts have to be older.

Significant angular unconformities have been reported from the Kutai and Tarakan basins in the late Middle Eocene and around the Early- Middle Miocene boundary (Achmad & Samuel 1984, Moss 1998, etc.). These two uplift/ early inversion events have been linked to the Luconia and Dangerous Grounds/Palawan continental blocks collisions at the N margin of Borneo.

W-E   cross-section along Mahakam River near Samarinda and Sanga-Sanga oilfield
W-E cross-section along Mahakam River near Samarinda and Sanga-Sanga oilfield, E Kalimantan (Jezler, 1916)

Most of Borneo island shows evidence of kilometers of young uplift. The Schwaner Mountains granite plutons formed at >6 km depth, and are now in outcrop. Maturation and diagenesis of Early Tertiary sediments in the West Kutai basin, etc., suggest up to 5 km of erosion. The Mount Kinabalu granite rose over 6 km in the last 7 million years. Some of this uplift was early, around the E-M Miocene boundary, much of it is of Pliocene and younger age.

Most of the oil and gas fields in Kalimantan are along the East coast, in the Mahakam and Tarakan delta complexes and associated Makassar Straits deep-water slope channel and submarine fan deposits. The Tanjung field in the Barito basin is one of the few fields producing from Late Eocene sandstones. Hydrocarbons have also been found in the Eocene of the NE Kutai Basin, but are uneconomic,

Eocene and Oligo-Miocene carbonates are present in all E Kalimantan basins, but, with the exception of the non-commercial Kerendan gas field in the upper Kutai basin, have not yielded any hydrocarbons.

Finally, several areas of Kalimantan has been known to yield diamonds. They are all in alluvial deposits and their origin is unknown. Some yielded Archean ages (3.1 Ga; Smith et al. 2009) and somehow must have come from a Gondwanan terrane. A series of papers have speculated on their origin, but no definitive answers have been presented yet.

Suggested Reading Borneo General - Kalimantan:
General, Tectonics

Molengraaff (1910), Haile (1974), Hartono (1984, 1985), Doutch (1992), Van de Weerd & Armin (1992), Simanjuntak (1999), Tate (2001)

CCW Rotations

Haile et al. (1977), Untung et al. (1987), Schmidtke et al. (1990), Fuller et al. (1991, 1999), Sunata & Wahyono (1991, 1998)

Tertiary Stratigraphy

Leupold & Van der Vlerk (1931), Baumann (1972), Samuel & Muchsin (1975), Achmad & Samuel (1984), Pieters et al. (1987), Tate (1991), Heryanto (1993, 2000)

Paleozoic- Mesozoic fauna

Martin (1888, 1889, 1898), Krekeler (1932), Von Koenigswald (1939), Rutten (1943, 1947), Schairer & Zeiss (1992)

Igneous complexes, Minerals

Williams & Harahap (1986), Williams et al. (1984-1990), Simmons & Brown (1990), Van Leeuwen et al. (1990), Harahap (1993, 1996), Suparka (1995), Abidin & Sukardi (1997), Hartono et al. (1999), Soeria-Atmadja et al. (1999), Amiruddin (2009), Prouteau et al. (1996, 2001), Davies et al. (2004, 2008), Hartono (2003, 2006)

Meratus Mts

Sikumbang (1986), Wakita et al. (1997, 1998), Hartono et al. (1999), Hartono (2000), Satyana &Armandita (2008), Priyomarsono (1986), Yuwono et al. (1988), Sikumbang (1990), Koji et al. (1998), Parkinson et al. (1998), Wakita et al. (1998), Monnier et al (1999), Pubellier et al. (1999)

W Kalimantan

Molengraaff (1902), Wing Easton (1904), Loth (1920), Ter Bruggen (1935), Zeijlmans van Emmichoven (1939), Williams et al. (1986, 1990)

Melawi-Ketungau basins

Martin (1898), Rose & Hartono (1978), Williams et al. (1984), Heryanto (1991-1996), Yulihanto et al. (2006), Passe et al. (2008)

Tarakan Basin

Samuel (1980), Achmad & Samuel (1984), Wight et al. (1993), Biantoro et al. (1996), Lentini & Darman (1996), Noon et al. (2003), Subroto et al. (2005), Sukanta et al. (2009)

Kutei Basin

Ubaghs (1936), Samuel & Muchsin (1975), Panigoro (1983), Nuay et al. (1985), Land & Jones (1987), Ott (1987), Van de Weerd et al. (1987), Moss (1988), Sunaryo et al, (1988), Wain & Berod (1989), Biantoro et al. (1992, 1994), Saller et al. (1992, 1993), Sardjono and Rotinsulu (1992), Chambers & Daley (1995, 1997), Bates (1996), Stuart et al. (1996), Tanean et al. (1996), Paterson et al. (1997), Endharto (1997), Ferguson & Clay (1997), Paterson et al. (1997), Cloke et al. (1997, 1999), Moss (1998), Moss & Finch (1998), Guritno & Chambers (1999), Moss & Chambers (1999), Chambers & Moss (1999), Feriansyah et al. (1999), Saller & Vijaya (2002), Chambers et al. (2004), Camp et al. (2009)

Mahakam Delta

Gerard & Oesterle (1973), Allen et al. (1976, 1979), Loiret & Mugniot (1982), Carbonel & Moyes (1987), Allen & Chambers (1998), Duval et al. (1998), Sidi et al. (1998), Peters et al. (1999), McClay et al. (2000), Nummedal et al. (2000), Peters et al. (2000), Snedden et al. (2001),Lambert et al. (2003), Roberts & Sydow (2003), Subroto et al. (2006), Cibaj et al. (2007- 2010)

Barito basin

Hooze (1893), Verbeek (1875), Krol (1920, 1925), Siregar & Sunaryo (1980), Campbell & Ardhana (1988), Kusuma & Darin (1989), Mason et al. (1993),Rotinsulu et al. (1993),  Satyana et al. (1993-1999), Bon et al. (1996)

Oil and gas fields

Courteney et al (1991) + too many to include here; see bibliography


Wing Easton (1894), Krol (1922), Witkamp (1932), Koolhoven (1935), Bergman et al. (1987, 1988), Spencer et al. (1988), Burgath & Mohr (1991), Smith et al. (2009)

IV.3. North Borneo (Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei)

The geology of onshore North Borneo is mainly represented by a series of W-E to SW-NE trending accretionary complexes, composed of intensely folded, predominantly South-dipping, imbricated deep water sediments of Early Cretaceous to Middle Miocene age, with fragments of ophiolitic rocks. These demonstrate that the North Borneo margin was a long-lived active margin, with subduction of 'Proto-South China Sea' oceanic crust to the South, under Kalimantan/ Sundaland, creating E-W trending volcanic arc systems in Kalimantan. This subduction zone may be traced Westward towards the Natuna- Anambas islands, and possibly links to the N Vietnam- SE China ' Yenshanian' magmatic arc.

The long duration of subduction suggests subduction of a large oceanic plate. The presence of latest Jurassic and Early Cretaceous age radiolarian chert blocks in the accretionary prism (Jasin 1996, 2000) suggest the subducting ocean crust was of Late Jurassic or older age. It was therefore probably not a South China Sea-type marginal basin, but may have been part of an early Pacific Ocean sea floor (Aitchison 1994, Honza et al. 2000).

Multiple accretionary complexes have been distinguished and named, younging in N direction. The oldest complex is mainly in North Kalimantan and was called the Danau Formation by Molengraaff (1910), who already recognized these folded radiolarian cherts, red siliceous shales and ultrabasic rocks as oceanic deposits. It is of (latest Jurassic?-) Early Cretaceous age. In the N Kutai Basin this is known as Telen- Kelinjau melange.

Further North, straddling the Kalimantan- Sarawak border, is the Late Cretaceous (Santonian)- E Eocene Rajang- East Crocker Belt (Embaluh Group in Kalimantan). It is unconformably succeeded in onshore Sarawak and Sabah by the Late Eocene- Early Miocene West Crocker Belt.

The closing of the ocean basin was probably diachronous, and was punctuated by microplate collisions, like the Luconia/ Miri Block collision, which caused a Middle-Late Eocene uplift event in onshore N Borneo ('Sarawak Orogeny').

Subduction and arc volcanism ceased completely by the end of the Early Miocene (~16 Ma), after collision of the Dangerous Grounds-Palawan Block ('Sabah orogeny'). This also stopped the opening of the South China Sea and caused uplift across much of N Borneo- Kalimantan, leading to major acceleration of progradation of deltas around the E-M Miocene boundary in Sarawak and the Tarakan, Kutai and Barito basins in Kalimantan.

Except for the large Miri oil field, discovered in 1919, all North Borneo oil and gas discoveries are in the offshore. Two main hydrocarbon play areas may be distinguished, the oil-prone M Miocene- E Pliocene Baram Delta system in the East (off Brunei- Sabah) and the gas-prone Luconia Province in the West (off W Sarawak), with Oligocene sandstone and M-L Miocene carbonate reservoirs. Useful recent summaries of N Borneo hydrocarbon provinces are in Sandal et al. (1996) and Petronas (1999).

Suggested reading North Borneo:
Text Books

Liechti et al. (1960), Sandal et al. (1996), Hutchison (2005)


Kirk (1968), Haile (1969), McManus & Tate (1983), Levell (1987), Hutchison (1988-2010), Tjia (1988), Hinz et al. (1989), Rangin et al. (1990), Tongkul (1990-2006), Tate (1992), Hazebroek & Tan (1993), Tongkul (1994), Omang (1995, 1996), Swauger et al (1995, 2000), Omang & Barber (1996), Clenell (1996), Milsom et al. (1997), Ismail (1999), Leong (1999), Balaguru et al. (2003), Morley et al. (2003), Tingay et al. (2005, 2009), Morley & Back (2008), Balaguru & Hall (2009), Cottam et al. (2010), Cullen (2010), King et al. (2010)

W Sarawak Paleozoic- Mesozoic

Cummings (1961), Bayliss (1966), Sanderson (1966), Kon'no (1972), Tamura & Hon (1977), Fontaine (1990), Beauvais & Fontaine (1990), Vachard (1990), Jasin &Said (1999), Jasin (2000), Takuya & Takeshi (2002), Sakamoto & Ishibashi (2002)

Accretionary complexes

Molengraaff (1910; Danau), Stauffer (1967), Tan (1982), Benard et al. (1990), Aitchison (1994), Hutchison (1994, 1996), Tongkul (1987-2006), Harahap (1995- Boyan), Moss (1998; Embaluh), Honza et al. (2000), Crevello (2001), Van Hattum et al. (2003, 2006), Lambiase et al. (2008)

Hydrocarbons- Mio-Pliocene clastics

Redfield (1922), Wilford (1961), Schaar (1976), Rijks (1981), Johnson et al. (1989), Ismail et al. (1995), Koopman & Schreurs (1996), Carter et al. (1997), Mat-Zin & Swarbrick (1997), Schreurs (1997), Graves & Swauger (1997), Tan et al. (1999), Bait (2003), Darman & Damit (2003), Saller & Blake (2003), Ingram et al. (2004)

Hydrocarbons- Luconia carbonate play

Ho Kiam Fui (1978), Epting (1980, 1989), Doust (1981), Ho (1990), Madon & Hassan (1999), Vahrenkamp et al. (1998, 2004), Ho et al. (2003), Bracco et al. (2004), Zampetti et al. (2004), Kob & Ali (2008)

IV.4. Makassar Straits`

The deep water Makassar Straits today is a major faunal dividing line (Wallace's Line) between predominantly Asian flora and fauna to the West and more Australian in the East. Geologically, it is not a major tectonic suture, but an Eocene rift system, widening to the North into the Celebes Sea marginal oceanic basin, where Middle-Late Eocene oceanic crust was penetrated by ODP wells. It formed on the Cretaceous accretionary crust of the (now) eastern side of Borneo and separated a slice off E Borneo to form West Sulawesi in Middle Eocene time.

There is ongoing debate on how much of Makassar Straits is underlain by oceanic crust (probably more common in North) versus highly extended continental crust (dominant in South).

Deep water hydrocarbon discoveries include gas and oil in Miocene- Pliocene submarine fan and slope channel sands in front of the Mahakam Delta.

Suggested reading Makassar Straits:

Burollet & Salle (1981), Situmorang (1982), Untung et al. (1985), Cloke et al. (1999), Fraser & Ichram (1999), Guntoro (1999), Moss et al. (2000), Lin et al (2005), Nur'Aini et al. (2005), Hall et al. (2009)

Deep water hydrocarbon exploration

Lumadyo (1999), Musgrove et al. (1999), Saller et al. (2000), Guritno et al. (2003), McKee & Dunham (2006), Sawada et al. (2007), Sugiaman et al. (2007), Heri et al. (2009), Siregar et al. (2010)

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