Igneous and hydrothermal minerals and textures in the offshore Canterbury Basin.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The Canterbury Basin is located on a passive margin on the east coast of the South Island, developed by the rifting of the New Zealand continental fragment from Antarctica in the Late Cretaceous. Well cuttings produced during petroleum exploration in the offshore Canterbury Basin have been examined for secondary minerals and textures. Minerals and textures have been identified primarily from optical examination in reflected light, with a particular focus on producing high-resolution images. Additional identifications are made using thin sections, SEM, XRD and XRF analysis. The focus of this study is the Clipper-1 well in the Clipper sub-basin as it contains the most abundant mineralisation and covers the full depth of the Canterbury Basin sedimentary sequence. Examination of cuttings from this well has revealed intrusive igneous carbonates and native metals including iron, aluminium and copper. The trace element concentrations in the igneous carbonates indicates they are derived from crustal material. Textures indicating fluidisation and recrystallisation of sedimentary material are also present. The proposed mechanism for producing these unusual mineral assemblages is a late Pliocene or younger mafic intrusion into the schist basement of the Canterbury Basin. The igneous carbonates are inferred to be derived from melting of carbonates in the schist. The native metals have been produced from melt due to highly reducing conditions produced by interaction of the intrusion with coal and limestone. The combination of native metals and igneous carbonates with a conspicuous absence of typical silicate igneous rocks is inferred to represent a new type of intrusive environment that has not previously been described in the scientific literature.