Publication Details

Stokes, N., Fergusson, C. L. & Offler, R. (2015). Backarc basin and ocean island basalts in the Narooma Accretionary Complex, Australia: setting, geochemistry and tectonics. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 62 (1), 37-53.


The Cambrian-Ordovician Wagonga Group contains basalts at Melville Point and Barlings Beach, 20 km south of Batemans Bay, New South Wales. At Melville Point, the succession has basal altered basalts overlain by chert and interbedded siliceous mudstone of the Wagonga Group, in turn overlain by turbidites and chert of the Adaminaby Group with a latest Cambrian to earliest Ordovician age. By contrast, at Barlings Beach, basalt is associated with highly disrupted chert (tectonic mélange), various slivers of mudstone and turbidites, and turbidites of the Adaminaby Group. Immobile elements in the basalts show consistent patterns that allow the magmatic affinity and tectonic setting to be determined in spite of pervasive hydrothermal alteration and subsequent lower greenschist facies metamorphism that accompanied strong folding and multiple foliation development. The Melville Point basalts show Ti/V ratios transitional between arc and MORB and therefore may have formed in either a forearc or backarc basin setting. However, these rocks have higher Ti/V ratios, LREE, Th and Nb than found in forearc basalts and are therefore considered to have formed in a backarc basin setting. In contrast to Melville Point, most basalts at Barlings Beach have a geochemical signature distinctive of ocean island settings like those reported from elsewhere in the Wagonga Group. We believe these rocks developed in a Cambrian backarc basin setting. In the Early to Middle Ordovician, much of the ocean basin was inundated by quartzose turbidites followed by basin destruction with accretion/underplating at a Late Ordovician-early Silurian Benambran subduction zone and formation of the Narooma Accretionary Complex.



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