Sedimentology, stratigraphy and palaeogeography of Oligocene to Miocene rocks of North Canterbury-Marlborough
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The Cenozoic was a time of climatic, tectonic and eustatic change in the Southern Hemisphere. Cooling at the pole, glaciation and substantial sea ice formation occurred as latitudinal temperature gradients increased and tectonics altered Southern Hemisphere circulation patterns. During this same time frame, the tectonic regime of the New Zealand continental block transitioned from a passive margin to an active plate boundary, resulting in the reversal of a long-standing transgression and an influx of terrigenous sediment to marine basins. In this transition, depositional basins in the South Island became more localized; however, the influence of oceanographic and tectonic drivers is poorly understood on a local scale. Here we apply sedimentological, biostratigraphic and geochemical analyses to revise understanding of the effects of the changing climatic regime and active tectonics on the development of Oligocene and Miocene rocks in the Northern Canterbury Basin. The Late Oligocene to Middle Miocene sedimentary rocks of the northern Canterbury Basin record oceanographic and tectonic influences on basin formation, sediment supply and deposition. The Palaeocene to Late Eocene Amuri Formation in the basin are micrites and biogenic cherts recording deepwater, terrigenous-starved environments, and do not show any influence of active tectonics. The Early Oligocene development of ice on the Antarctic continent and the associated global sea level response is reflected in this basin as the Marshall Paraconformity, an eroded, glauconitized and phosphatised firm ground and hardground atop the Amuri. Sedimentation above this unconformity resumed in the Late Oligocene-Early Miocene with cleaner, deep-water, bathyal planktic foraminifera packstones and wackestones in eastern areas and Late Oligocene inner shelf volcaniclastic packstones in parts of the western basin. Post-unconformity sedimentation resumed earlier in western areas, as the currents responsible for scouring the sea floor moved progressively to the east. The development of tectonic uplift in terrestrial settings is first seen in the northwestern basin in Lower Miocene fine quartz-rich sandstones, and by the Middle Miocene, bathyal sandstones and quartz-rich wackestones appear in the basin, replacing earlier, more pure carbonates. The uplift caused shallowing to the west, in the form of shelf progradation due to sediment influx. This shallowing is not observed to the east; instead, the palaeoenvironments show a deepening as a result of sea level rise.