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Facies architecture of a silicic intrusion-dominated volcanic centre at Highway–Reward, Queensland, Australia

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0377-0273(00)00159-1
  • Volcanic-Associated Massive Sulphide
  • Cryptodomes
  • Lavas
  • Ordovician
  • Queensland
  • Medicine


Abstract The Highway–Reward massive sulphide deposit is hosted by a silicic volcanic succession in the Cambro-Ordovician Seventy Mile Range Group, northeastern Australia. Three principal lithofacies associations have been identified in the host succession: the volcanogenic sedimentary facies association, the primary volcanic facies association and the resedimented syn-eruptive facies association. The volcanogenic sedimentary facies association comprises volcanic and non-volcanic siltstone and sandstone turbidites that indicate submarine settings below storm wave base. Lithofacies of the primary volcanic facies association include coherent rhyolite, rhyodacite and dacite, and associated non-stratified breccia facies (autoclastic breccia and peperite). The resedimented volcaniclastic facies association contains clasts that were initially formed and deposited by volcanic processes, but then redeposited by mass-flow processes. Resedimentation was more or less syn-eruptive so that the deposits are essentially monomictic and clast shapes are unmodified. This facies association includes monomictic rhyolitic to dacitic breccia (resedimented autoclastic facies), siltstone-matrix rhyolitic to dacitic breccia (resedimented intrusive hyaloclastite or resedimented peperite) and graded lithic-crystal-pumice breccia and sandstone (pumiceous and crystal-rich turbidites). The graded lithic-crystal-pumice breccia and sandstone facies is the submarine record of a volcanic centre(s) that is not preserved or is located outside the study area. Pumice, shards, and crystals are pyroclasts that reflect the importance of explosive magmatic and/or phreatomagmatic eruptions and suggest that the source vents were in shallow water or subaerial settings. The lithofacies associations at Highway–Reward collectively define a submarine, shallow-intrusion-dominated volcanic centre. Contact relationships and phenocryst populations indicate the presence of more than 13 distinct porphyritic units with a collective volume of 0.5 km 3. Single porphyritic units vary from <10 to 350 m in thickness and some are less than 200 m in diameter. Ten of the porphyritic units studied in the immediate host sequence to the Highway–Reward deposit are entirely intrusive. Two of the units lack features diagnostic of their emplacement mechanism and could be either lavas and intrusions. Direct evidence for eruption at the seafloor is limited to a single partly extrusive cryptodome. However, distinctive units of resedimented autoclastic breccia indicate the presence nearby of additional lavas and domes. The size and shape of the lavas and intrusions reflect a restricted supply of magma during eruption/intrusion, the style of emplacement, and the subaqueous emplacement environment. Due to rapid quenching and mixing with unconsolidated clastic facies, the sills and cryptodomes did not spread far from their conduits. The shape and distribution of the lavas and intrusions were further influenced by the positions of previously or concurrently emplaced units. Magma preferentially invaded the sediment, avoiding the older units or conforming to their margins. Large intrusions and their dewatered envelope may have formed a barrier to the lateral progression and ascent of subsequent batches of magma.

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