Publication Details

Offler, R. & Fergusson, C. L. (2016). Proto-Pacific-margin source for the Ordovician turbidite submarine fan, Lachlan Orogen, southeast Australia: geochemical constraints. Sedimentary Geology, 334 53-65.


The Early Palaeozoic proto-Pacific Pacific margin of Gondwana was characterised by a huge turbidite submarine fan with abundant clastic detritus derived from unknown sources within Gondwana. These deposits are widespread in the Lachlan Orogen of southeast Australia and include the Ordovician Adaminaby Group. Here we show that the mudstones and sandstones of the Adaminaby Group have chemical compositions that indicate the detritus in them was derived from a felsic, continental source similar in composition to Post Archean Australian Shales (PAAS). Chondrite normalised REE patterns showing LREE enrichment, flat PAAS normalised patterns and elemental ratios La/Sc, Cr/Th, Cr/V, Th/Sc and Th/U, have been used to support this interpretation. The dominance of quartz, and to a lesser degree plagioclase and biotite in the sandstones, suggests that the source was mainly granodioritic to tonalitic in composition. Th/Yb and Ta/Yb ratios indicate that the source was probably calc-alkaline, continental and shoshonitic. In addition, the presence of detrital muscovite, low-grade metamorphic and felsic volcanic clasts, demonstrates that a low-grade metamorphic terrane and volcanic arc contributed to the detritus observed in the samples. The presence of well-rounded zircons and tourmalines, very high Zr contents, high Zr/Sc and higher Cr/V ratios in some samples particularly in the Shoalhaven River area, indicate that some of the detritus was recycled.SiO2 versus (Al2O3 + K2O + Na2O) plots suggest the source areas experienced conditions varying from humid/semi-humid to semi-arid. Textural features and weathering trends of samples from all locations follow a curved pathway on Al2O3 - (CaO* + Na2O) - K2O (ACNK) diagrams, and indicate that the clays formed from weathering had been K-metasomatised prior to penetrative deformation. Chemical indices of alteration (CIA) reveal that even the freshest sandstones are altered and others are moderately to strongly altered. Discrimination diagrams involving major, trace and REE strongly support a collisional/continental volcanic arc setting that was substantially eroded to produce the plutonic detritus observed in the sandstones. The collisional setting accords with that proposed previously by other authors who suggested that it developed during the Delamerian Orogeny, resulting in the uplifted source areas providing detritus that inundated the backarc and forearc sites of the Macquarie Arc. Some of the detritus, however, may have been derived from a continental arc that existed in the late Cambrian along the margin of the Ross Orogen. Based on palaeocurrent analyses in previous studies and shoshonitic signature of the detritus, it is proposed that the Cambrian volcanics along the eastern active margin of Gondwana provided much of the detritus in the Adaminaby Group. Zircons with the Grenvillian signature suggest that some detritus were also derived from the Ross Orogen.



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