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Structure and Petrology of the Red Hill Complex, Nelson

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posted on 2021-11-07, 21:21 authored by Walcott, Richard Irving

The Red Hill Complex is an essentially concordant ultramafic body enclosed in Upper Paleozoic flysch facies sediments which include Pelorus Group (oldest), Lee River Group and Maitai Group. The Pelorus Group contains rare submarine lavas and is largely derived from spilitic volcanics. The Lee River Group consists of spilitic pillow lavas, volcanic breccias and spilitic basalts and dolerites. The Maitai Group consists of limestone, sandstone and argillite; an extensive conglomerate lens in the argillites is largely composed of andesitic pebbles. The Red Hill Complex is a 12,000 ft. thick lens and is part of a sheet of peridotites which may extend 40 miles northward to Dun Mountain. The Complex is divided into a 3000 ft thick Basal Zone of massive harzburgite and a 9000 ft thick Upper Zone of layered harzburgite and dunite with minor variants, feldspathic-peridotite, eucrite, lherzolite, wehrlite and pyroxenite. The bulk composition of both zones is approximately the same but the Upper Zone contains about 0.2 per cent feldspar not present in the Basal Zone. There is no significant regional change in mineral chemistry throughout the Complex and the average composition is about; olivine Fo91, 70 per cent; orthopyroxene, En88, 22 per cent; clinopyroxene, 5 per cent; feldspar An96, less than 0.2 per cent; spinel 2 per cent. Layering and foliation are common in the top of the Upper Zone. Layering is of at least two generations of which at least one is of metamorphic origin. Metamorphic layering was formed by metasomatic replacement probably along subhorizontal shear planes during intrusion of the ultramafic sheet. Pyroxene pegmatites formed after flow ceased. The diversity of rock types in the top of the Upper Zone is considered by the writer to have been caused by metamorphic differentiation of parent material the same composition as the Basal Zone. The preferred orientation of olivine in lineated, foliated, laminated and layered rocks has the same pattern suggesting a close genetic relationship between those structures. Evidence strongly supports a tectonic origin for the preferred orientation. Rocks in the Upper Zone are xenomorphic-granular in texture and those in the Basal Zone are typically protoclastic. Xenomorphic-granular textures are derived in part from protoclastic by post-deformational recrystallization. The ultramafic rocks are cut by a number of dykes composed of hornblende-labradorite, hypersthene-augite-bytownite assemblages or minor variants of these. The dykes were intruded shortly after emplacement of the ultramafic rocks. The Red Hill Complex is considered to have been emplaced as a sheet at shallow depths which intruded superficial deposits on the ocean floor and was later overlain by volcanics


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Clark, R H; Bradley, J