Constructing the volcanic architecture of Kalkarindji, an ancient flood basalt province, using a multidisciplinary approach

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Peter Marshall1, Mike Widdowson1, Simon Peter Kelley1, Conall Mac Niocaill2 and David Thomas Murphy3, (1)Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, (2)University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, (3)Queensland University of Technology, Earth, Environment and Biological Sciences, Brisbane, Australia
The Kalkarindji Continental Flood Basalt Province (CFBP) is the oldest igneous province in the Phanerozoic. Erupted in the mid-Cambrian (505-510 Ma) [1], it is estimated volumes of lava up to 1.5 x 105 km3could have been erupted, making this similar in size to the better known Columbia River Basalts, USA.

Relatively little is known about the province, due in part to its remote location, though large swathes remain well preserved (c. 50,000 km2). This study, based on rigorous field investigations, utilises 4 different analytical techniques to construct a volcanic architecture for the Kalkarindji basalts, drawing together these complimentary datasets to generate a series of detailed stratigraphies from around the province.

Mineralogy and petrography form the basis while geochemical data aides in defining lava flow stratigraphies and distinguishing individual flow packages in disparate locations around the province. 40Ar/39Ar dating of key stratigraphic marker horizons support stratigraphical correlation across the province whilst the use of palaeomagnetism and magnetostratigraphy has allowed for correlation on a broader scale.

Indications from this study point towards an unusual eruption among CFBPs in the Phanerozoic; a lack of tumescence, immediate subsidence of the lava pile following cessation of eruption; and, in the main sub-province, we map a simple volcanic structure thinning to the east from a single source.

1. L. M. Glass, D. Phillips, (2006). Geology. 34, 461–464.