A mid-Permian mafic intrusion into wet marine sediments of the lower Shoalhaven Group and its significance in the volcanic history of the southern Sydney Basin

Publication Name

Australian Journal of Earth Sciences


A mid-Permian (late Kungurian) micro-dolerite dyke/sill complex located at Kinghorn Point intruded into the then unconsolidated upper Wandrawandian Siltstone of the lower Shoalhaven Group, southeastern Sydney Basin. The dark grey siltstone was deposited in the deeper part of a coastal seaway characterised by northward-directed paleocurrents, with a Cruziana ichnofacies, crinoid stem fossils and abundant glendonites indicating a cold climate. Thin periodic storm deposits, or tempestites, of fine-grained sandstone of volcanogenic origin are scattered through the siltstone. These paler sandy beds were probably derived from island volcanoes to the south or southeast, indicating that regional volcanism was pervasive during this glacial episode. Evidence for penecontemporaneous igneous emplacement into mid-Permian wet unconsolidated shallow marine sediments includes: destruction of primary sedimentary structures caused by extensive interaction and intermingling between the sedimentary and igneous materials, the presence of brecciated contacts and peperite, angular and rounded dolerite fragments in the siltstone, fluidisation and entrainment of the sediments into cooling and flow fractures in the magma, and the presence of tube-like flow features. There are also hyaloclastite and baked sediments along the contact margins, fumaroles and vesicles within both the sediment and magma. High vesiculation is characteristic of intrusion near the surface, and possibly extrusion at the sediment–water interface. The geochemistry of the intrusion, especially key element ratios of the high-field-strength, major and trace elements, is very different from that of the shoshonites of the nearby Permian (mid Wordian to Capitanian) Gerringong Volcanics, having much lower Zr/TiO2, Nb/Y, Nb/Zr, K2O, P2O5, Rb, Th, U, Y, Zr and Nb, and higher MgO, suggesting they are unrelated. This indicates that the Kinghorn Point intrusion was associated with an earlier intermediate pre-Gerringong Volcanics phase, or it may be distinctive and unrelated. Magmatic geochemical comparisons further afield along the northern Sydney Basin and Tamworth Fold Belt boundary coasts show that volcanism was pervasive during the Wandrawandian glacial episode and that regional mid-Permian mafic volcanism was well evolved in the southern Sydney Basin during sedimentation. KEY POINTS A mid-Permian syndepositional dolerite intrusion at Kinghorn Point shows classical peperite and soft-sediment deformation features. Previously unreported mafic tuffaceous sandstone beds within the Wandrawandian Siltstone were probably derived from island volcanoes to the south or southeast. Geochemistry of the intrusion shows that it is not related to the mid Wordian to Capitanian Gerringong Volcanics. Regional volcanism was pervasive during the Wandrawandian glacial episode along the southeast Panthalassan margin of Gondwana.



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