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The upper Brachina subgroup : a late Precambrian intertidal deltaic and sandflat sequence in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia

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  • Geology Stratigraphic Precambrian
  • Palaeogeography South Australia Flinders Ranges
  • Sediments (Geography) South Australia Flinders Ranges
  • Archaeology
  • Earth Science


The stratigraphy of the late Precarnbrian upper Brachina Subgroup has been studied in detail throughout the southern and central Flinders Ranges of South Australia. Ten stratigraphically significant facies associations are readily recognisable within which 18 separate and distinct lithotypes have been defined and described. The complex regional strati - graphic arrangement has been simplified by using a Markov Chain technique of analysis. The resultant lithotype stratigraphy is used as the base upon which the palaeogeographic history of the upper Brachina Subgroup is reconstructed. A detailed sedimentologic analysis of each lithotype was undertaken in order to ascertain their individual palaeoenvironments of deposition. This involved a petrologic analysis of the arenaceous component of each lithotype, the analysis of the suite of sedimentary structures contained within each lithotype, and the analysis of all directional structures for palaeocurrent directions. For this latter analysis a new computer technique was developed whereby up to 3 individual populations can be separately analysed from any one distribution. Deposition of the upper Brachina Subgroup succession was due to a phase of uplift tectonism and minor accompanying basic volcanism. Within this succession two distinct depositional episodes are readily discernable. During the first episode a massive sand influx flowed from a westerly source region ( the Gawler Craton ) into a shallow submerged, though possibly tidally influenced mudflat as a prograding deltaic succession ( the " Alligator River Delta " ). This initial delta developed in the western region of the Adelaide ' Geosyncline ' as a fluvial and tide modified, wave dominated system which was fed by stable outlet channels, protected by barrier - bars and surrounded by a low intertidal aerobic mudflat. Preserved wi - bhin this mudflat deposit are the probable body fossils of primitive cup - shaped coelenterates ( ? ), which were possibly the ancestral organisms of the Ediacara assemblage. With, continued sediment influx and basin shallowing, this initial delta system evolved to an unbarred fluvial modified, tide - dominated delta which was fed by migrating channels and surrounded by an intertidal mudflat. This mudflat was anaerobic, possibly due to the activity of abundant microscopic organisms. The second depositional episode of the upper Brachina Subgroup developed when tectonic instability affected a portion of the basin's western margin ( Uplift I ). As a result, part of the previously deposited deltaic succession was eroded and reworked into a vast, thin intertidal sandflat which extended through the central region, and into the northern region of the Adelaide ' Geosyncline '. A second phase of tectonic instability ( Uplift II ) caused renewed activity along the basin ' s western margin, and also induced the emergence of at least two islands within the basin. Around these islands a thin, dominantly fluvial deposit was generated. The final phase of tectonic instability ( Uplift III ) affected only the western margin of the basin, and produced a narrow sand deposit of probable beach origin. Meanwhile, within the basin gradual subsidence induced the development of a shallow, possibly tidal aerobic mudflat and marked the end of the upper Brachina Subgroup phase of sedimentation.

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