Distal Air-Fall Tuffs: Examples from the Late Triassic of Southeast Queensland

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 3
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
Distal air-fall ashes are widespread deposits that may record volcanism many hundreds of kilometres from their source. They are characteristically thin, fine-grained and have a low preservation potential usually being either eroded, or reworked and incorporated in overlying sediments following deposition. The most likely sites of accumulation are deep sea, lake and swamp environments where low energy conditions favour preservation. Post-depositional alteration of predominantly glassy volcanic ash is commonly extensive hampering identification of such layers in the geological record. As a result air-fall tuffs are poorly represented in the rock record and furthermore are commonly misinterpreted. Southeast Queensland during the late Triassic hosted active silicic volcanism and a number of fault-controlled basins in which coal-bearing sediments were accumulating. Silicic volcanics of late Triassic age are represented by the Brisbane Tuff in the Brisbane city area, the Chillingham Volcanics to the south of Brisbane and extending into New South Wales, the North Arm and Mount Byron Volcanics to the north of Brisbane, the Aranbanga Beds exposed around Gayndah and the Agnes Waters and Muncon Volcanics which occur northwest of Bundaberg. Stephens (1986) interprets these Volcanics as the remnants of a major silicic igneous 'province which he likens to modern continental orogenic margins. The Ipswich, Tarong and Callide Basins of southeast Queensland all contain coal measure sequences of late Triassic age that accumulated in alluvial plain environments. A Dicroidium flora is common to all and palynol.ogical evidence indicates a late Triassic (Carnian) age (de Jersey, 1975; Stevens, 1981). The coal seams of the three basins are characterised by their thickness (up to 25 m) and the presence of abundant thin, laterally persistent, kaolinite claystones (tonsteins) that show a marked similarity of morphology, texture and mineralogy. Detailed studies of the Ipswich Coal Measures (Falkner, 1986) suggest a volcanic air-fall origin for the tonsteins of the Ipswich Basin. Similar.tonsteins from the Tarong and Callide Basins provide evidence for widespread silicic volcanism during the late Triassic in southeast Queensland.
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