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The Geology of Basement Rocks in the Southeastern Tararua Range, North Island, New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-12, 12:31 authored by Foley, Lisa Ann

Basement rocks within the southeastern Tararua Range belong to two associations: a sedimentary association (greywacke, argillite, calcareous siltstone, conglomerate and olistostrome) and a volcanogenic association (metabasite, chert, red argillite and limestone). Rocks of the sedimentary association are more abundant and have been deposited by turbidity currents and debris flows in a deep water, marine environment. Three turbidite and two intercalated non-turbidite lithofacies are recognized. Sedimentological data suggest that the sediment was deposited in a submarine fan system (mid-fan environment), probably in a trench. The alternating greywacke-argillite beds have detrital compositions which are essentially quartzo-feldspathic. Framework mode and geochemical analyses indicate that the sediment was derived from an active continental margin that was shedding detritus of mainly acid-volcanic and metamorphic origin. Rocks of the volcanogenic association, although volumetrically minor, are widely distributed. Geochemical analyses of metabasites suggest that they were erupted in an oceanic environment, both at a mid-ocean ridge and an intra-plate setting. The presence of radiolaria skeletons in red argillite and chert indicates a hemiplagic depositional environment for these rocks. Rocks of the volcanogenic association often have conformable contacts. These rocks have a related depositional environment and represent seafloor material. Where observed, contacts between rocks of the two associations are always faulted. Deformation in the field area is characterized by development of the following types of structures: several generations of folds, faults at both a low angle and high angle to bedding, shear foliation and melange. The region has undergone the following deformational events, outlined from oldest to youngest: 1) folding with at least two fold generations present. 2) fragmentation and disruption of the beds by faults. Low-angle to bedding faults and high-angle to bedding faults have disrupted the bedding. Where these structures have occurred to a great extent, a chaotically disrupted unit, melange, has formed. 3) post-melange folding. 4) recent faulting related to the present strike-slip regime in New Zealand. Rocks have undergone prehnite-pumpellyite facies metamorphism. The rock types, their field relationships and the deformation that the area has undergone is consistent with accretion at a convergent plate margin. Radiolaria were extracted from two red chert samples. In the study the radiolaria define a Middle Jurassic age, which indicates that the sediments in the southeastern Tararua Range must be of Middle Jurassic in age or younger (possibly Cretaceous). A similar sample from the Manawatu Gorge to the north of the study area contained radiolaria of Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous age. Sediments in both areas therefore belong to fossil zone 5 (Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous) of MacKinnon (1983).


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Master of Science

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Korsch, Russell