Stratigraphy, facies architecture and tectonic implications of the Upper Devonian to Lower Carboniferous Campwyn Volcanics of the northern New England Fold Belt

Bryan, S. E., Fielding, C. R., Holcombe, R. J., Cook, A. and Moffitt, C. A. (2003) Stratigraphy, facies architecture and tectonic implications of the Upper Devonian to Lower Carboniferous Campwyn Volcanics of the northern New England Fold Belt. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 50(3), pp. 377-401. ISSN (print) 0812-0099


Upper Devonian to Lower Carboniferous strata of the Campwyn Volcanics of east central Queensland preserve a substantial sequence of first-cycle volcaniclastic sedimentary and coeval volcanic rocks that record prolonged volcanic activity along the northern New England Fold Belt. The style and scale of volcanism varied with time,producing an Upper Devonian sequence of mafic volcano-sedimentary rocks overlain by a rhyolitic ignimbrite-dominated sequence that passes upward into a Lower Carboniferous limestone-bearing sedimentary sequence. We define two facies associations for the Campwyn Volcanics. A lower facies association is dominated by mafic volcanic-derived sedimentary breccias with subordinate primary mafic volcanic rocks comprising predominantly hyaloclastite and peperite. Sedimentary breccias record episodic and high energy, subaqueous depositional events with clastic material sourced from a mafic lava-dominated terrain. Some breccias contain a high proportion of attenuated dense, glassy mafic juvenile clasts, suggesting a syn-eruptive origin. The lower facies association coarsens upwards from a lithic sand-dominated sequence through a thick interval of pebble- to boulder-grade polymict volcaniclastic breccias, culminating in facies that demonstrate subaerial exposure. The silicic upper facies association marks a significant change in eruptive style, magma composition and the nature of eruptive sources, as well as the widespread development of subaerial depositional conditions. Crystal-rich, high-grade, low- to high-silica rhyolite ignimbrites dominate the base of this facies association. Biostratigraphic age controls indicate that the ignimbrite-bearing sequences are Famennian to lower-mid Tournaisian in age. The ignimbrites represent extra-caldera facies with individual units up to 40 m thick and mostly lacking coarse lithic breccias. Thick deposits of pyroclastic material interbedded with fine-grained siliceous sandstone and mudstone (locally radiolarian-bearing) were deposited from pyroclastic flows that crossed palaeo-shorelines or represent syn-eruptive, resedimented pyroclastic material. Some block-bearing lithic-pumice-crystal breccias may also reflect more proximal subaqueous silicic explosive eruptions. Crystal-lithic sandstones interbedded with, and overlying the ignimbrites, contain abundant detrital volcanic quartz and feldspar derived from the pyroclastic deposits. Limestone is common in the upper part of the upper facies association, and several beds are oolitic (cf. Rockhampton Group of the Yarrol terrane). Overall, the upper facies association fines upward and is transgressive, recording a return to shallow-marine conditions. Palaeocurrent data from all stratigraphic levels in the Campwyn Volcanics indicate that the regional sediment-dispersal direction was to the northwest, and opposed to the generally accepted notion of easterly sediment dispersal from a volcanic arc source. The silicic upper facies association correlates in age and lithology to Early Carboniferous silicic volcanism in the Drummond (Cycle 1) and Burdekin Basins, Connors Arch, and in the Yarrol terranes of eastern Queensland. The widespread development of silicic volcanism in the Early Carboniferous indicates that silicic (rift-related) magmatism was not restricted to the Drummond Basin, but was part of a more substantial silicic igneous province.

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