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Whole-rock geochemical variations and evolution of the arc-derived Murihiku Terrane, New Zealand

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2003

Department of Geoscience, Shimane University, Matsue 690-8504, Japan
Geology Department, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
Australian Geodynamics Cooperative Research Centre, Australian Geological Survey Organization, GPO Box 378, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
Geology Department, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand


Arc-flank volcaniclastic sedimentation in the Murihiku Terrane of New Zealand lasted about 120 million years from Late Permian to Early Cretaceous time. Despite the effects of pervasive zeolite-facies alteration, whole-rock geochemical parameters for sandstones, siltstones and tuffs record changes in source-rock composition, both in time and along the length of the depositional basin. Sandstones are considered to give a more reliable indication of the state of evolution of the source volcanic arc than do the siltstones. The siltstones commonly contain detrital white mica flakes that are generally lacking in the sandstones, and are possibly of distal continental origin. Some also contain very fine felsic ash particles. Average abundances and normalized multi-element diagrams are used to estimate proportions of three model end-member source constituents, average upper-continental crust (UCC), high-K rhyolite (RHY) and basaltic andesite (AND). Sandstone provenance for the Southland Syncline sector changed from a predominantly basaltic-andesite source in Late Permian to early Middle Triassic time, for example, UCC:RHY:AND = 0:17:83 in the Early to early Middle Triassic, to highly felsic in the Middle to Late Triassic, reaching UCC:RHY:AND = 2:74:24 in the Late Triassic Oretian Stage. A UCC component became increasing significant from latest Triassic upward and the proportion of mafic to felsic volcanism increased again, with UCC:RHY:AND = 15:30:35 in the Middle Jurassic Temaikan Stage. Mix modelling suggests that along-arc source proportions varied, with greater mafic and upper continental crust contributions in the northern Kawhia segment than in the Southland segment. These patterns may be explained by deposition at an oceanic Aleutian-type arc margin, with transition to a continental oceanic arc character induced either by arc evolution and dissection, forearc sliver translation, or underplating of rafted microcontinental fragments.

Research Article
© 2002 Cambridge University Press

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