School of Earth Sciences - Theses

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    The geology, petrology and geochemistry of the Otway formation volcanogenic sediments
    Duddy, Ian Ross ( 1983)
    The geology, petrology and geochemistry of the Early Cretaceous Otway Formation have been investigated in detail and used to determ ine the nature of the source rocks and to develop a model for the diagenetic and low-grade metamorphic readjustments. The fluviatile Otway Formation was deposited in continental rift grabens that stretched some 1000 km along the southern coast of Australia during the Early Cretaceous. The main areas of deposition in the Otway, Gippsland and Bass Basins contain an estimated 100,000 cubic kilometres of detritus. The major part of this detritus was derived from pyroclastic material which has been shown by the fission track dating studies to have been derived from contemporaneous volcanism. The pile of volcanogenic material comprising the Otway Formation is at least 3 to 4 km thick in the main basins. The sediments are entirely non-marine and were deposited by large scale multichannel streams cut in extensive floodplains. The streams deposited thick multistorey channel sandstones in sheet-like bodies and a diverse spectrum of overbank mudstones and fine-grained sandstones. The complex channel sandstones fine upwards but have numerous erosional breaks indicating repeated flood cycles. Whereas the channel deposits have internal features consistent with braided stream channels the overall system has a large proportion of floodplain which was been considered in the past to have been a feature of meandering channels. The oversupply of volcanogenic detritus is considered to have been responsible for the development of the multiple channel depositional system in a climate of high seasonal rainfall. Whole rock chemical analyses of all lithologies in the sedimentary suite, recalculated i.nto a set of normative minerals, have proved useful in the distinction and description of sedimentary rocks in general. P20S was found to be useful for the identification of Early Cretaceous soil forming processes. The study of the chemical composition of detrital minerals has demonstrated the usefulness of this approach in the identification of the nature of the source magmas of volcanogenic sediments. For the Otway Formation, analyses of clinopyroxenes, amphiboles, feldspars and sphene in particular, have shown that high potassium dacitic to shoshonitic volcanism dominated during Early Cretaceous rifting. The new data on the geology and mineralogical and chemical features of the Otway Formation have application to the study of diagenesis and low-grade metamorphism in volcanogenic sediments in general. (From Abstract)
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    The geology and hydrogeology of the Corangamite region
    Thompson, Bruce R. ( 1971)
    Tectonic activity after the early Cretaceous resulted in a complete change in the depositional environment in the sedimentary basin - the Otway Basin - located to the south of the Western Highlands of Victoria and to the west of Melbourne. ThiS Basin became subject to increasing marine influences and the sediments deposited include thick sequences of Miocene marls: the Gellibrand Marl. The water in the marls and in the underlying sands of the Dilwyn Formation is saline near Lake Corangamite but elsewhere water of good quality is found in the sand aquifers, indicating that tectonic activity has caused the local isolation of the lower formation from the effects of flushing by fresher groundwater. Continued tectonic activity and associated volcanic activity during the Miocene and Lower Pliocene resulted firstly in the regression of the sea then the development of the internal drainage characteristic of the Corangamite Region. The sea probably retreated to the southeast as indicated by the unusual parallel physiographic features which have influenced the flows of 'earlier' Newer Volcanic lavas in the Curdie River area and the subsequent development of this river's drainage system. These features are probably related to remanent coast strandlines. The quality of the groundwater found in the 'earlier' lavas is generally poor but the basalts and tuffs of the 'later' Newer Volcanic age often contain water of low salinity, particularly in the intake areas which are located in the ‘stony rises' or near the volcanic cones. The intake area water of the Mt. Warrion basalts is a low salinity calcium-magnesium-bicarbonate water, having an unusually high nitrate content. As the salinity of the water increases away from the intake area the chemical nature of the water approaches that of a dilute sea water. This has been interpreted as being the result of a release of 'oceanic' connate salts by weathering of the calcareous material found in the tuffs and scoria beds of the volcanic cones. The material has been derived from the underlying marl sequence and has been incorporated into the igneous rocks during eruption. The high nitrate concentration has been attributed to the effects of pollution, since there is some evidence that the nitrate values have increased over the last sixty years, but there is also probably an increased rate of fixation in the intake area due to the effects of cultivation. The high bicarbonate values are probably due to a high rate of absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the intake areas. The hydraulic characteristic of the basalts ensures the rapid distribution at the high nitrate and bicarbonate waters of the intake area over large areas, hence the effects of pollution are more readily noticeable. The groundwater regime plays an important role in the transfer of dissolved salts in the mainly saline water domain of the Corangamite Region. The study of the water and salt content of some of the lakes of the area indicates that a balance exists that results in the maintenance of a specific lake salinity within narrow limits, and in which the groundwater regime is often involved. By considering the salt balance and water balance of a system as one parameter, referred to as the Hydro Salinity Factor, a simple mathematical model can be postulated to determine some of the unknown factors involved in the maintenance of an equilibrium salinity in a lake. The drilling programme and groundwater investigation outlined an important water resource located in the Warrion area. Already 40 bores have been drilled in this area and they produce 6.6 x 105m3 /year (800 acre feet/year). There is an annual underflow of about 1.5 x 107 m3 (12,000 acre feet). This quantity is well within the 'safe yield' of the area and further development should be encouraged, but because of the presence of the large number of saline lakes in the area, saline water intrusion into the basalts would rapidly occur if the groundwater levels are lowered beneath the lake levels.
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    The geology and petrology of the Lower Devonian Buchan Group, Victoria
    Husain, Farhat ( 1981)
    This study is devoted to a detailed examination of the stratigraphy and petrology of the late Lower Devonian (Emisan) Buchan Group, an essentially carbonate sequence. The Buchan Group begins with the lenticular Spring Creek member of the Buchan Caves Limestone. This consists of terrigenous clastic sediments derived from erosion of the underlying Snowy River Rhyodacites. Lithologies range from conglomerates and breccias with rhyodacite pebbles, through arkosic sandstones to quartz sandstones and shales. Pyroclastics, previously identified in this unit, are absent. The Spring Creek member changed from non-marine to marine as the main transgression became established and was followed by a change to carbonate deposition.