The Influence of Palaeoenvironment and lava flux on the emplacement of submarine, near-shore Late Permian basalt lavas, Sydney Basin (Australia)
Lava flux and a low palaeoslope were the critical factors in determining the development of different facies in the Late Permian Blow Hole flow, which comprises a series of shoshonitic basalt lavas and associated volcaniclastic detritus in the southern Sydney Basin of eastern Australia. The unit consists of a lower lobe and sheet facies, a middle tube and breccia facies, and an upper columnar-jointed facies. Close similarities in petrography and geochemistry between the basalt lavas from the three facies suggest similar viscosities at similar temperatures. Sedimentological and palaeontological evidence from the sedimentary units immediately below the Blow Hole flow suggests that the lower part of the volcanic unit was emplaced in a cold water, shallow submarine environment, but at least the top of the uppermost lava was subaerial with some palaeosol development. The lower lobe and sheet facies was emplaced on a low slope (<2°) in a lower to middle shoreface environment with water depths of ∼20–25 m. Lava may have transgressed from subaerial to subaqueous and was emplaced relatively passively with lava flux sufficiently high and uniform to form lobes and sheets rather than pillows. The middle unit probably originated from a subaerial vent and flowed into a shallow (10–15 m) submarine environment, and wave action probably interacted with the advancing lava front to form a lava delta. Lava flux was sufficiently high to produce well-developed, subcircular lava tubes, which lack evidence for thermal erosion. In some areas, lava ‘burrowed’ into the unconsolidated, water-saturated lava delta and sand pile to produce intrusive contacts. The upper columnar-jointed unit represents a ponded facies probably emplaced initially in water depths <5 m but whose top was subaerial.