Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 54 (2007), pp. 1057–1071; doi: 10.1080/08120090701615717 Copyright © 2007 Geological Society of Australia; published by Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


The late Early Permian (273–271 Ma) Wandrawandian Siltstone in the southern Sydney Basin of New South Wales represents a marine highstand that can be correlated over 2000 km. A mainly fine-grained terrigenous clastic succession, the Wandrawandian Siltstone contains evidence for cold, possibly glacial conditions based on the presence of outsized clasts and glendonites, mineral pseudomorphs after ikaite, a mineral that forms in cold (0–7°C) marine sediments. A lithostratigraphic and facies analysis of the unit was conducted, based on extensive coastal outcrops and continuous drill-cores. Eight facies associations were identified: (i) siltstone; (ii) siltstone with minor interbedded sandstone; (iii) interbedded tabular sandstone and siltstone; (iv) admixed sandstone and siltstone to medium-grained sandstone; (v) discrete, discontinuous sandstone intervals; (vi) chaotic conglomerate and sandstone in large channel forms; (vii) chaotically bedded and pervasively soft-sediment-deformed intervals; and (viii) tuffaceous siltstone and claystone. Using lithology and ichnology, relative water depths were ascribed to each facies association. Based on these associations, the unit was divided into five informal members that reveal a history of significant relative sea-level fluctuations throughout the formation: member I, interbedded/admixed sandstone and siltstone; member II, siltstone; member III, slumped masses of members I and II; member IV, siltstone and erosionally based lensoid sandstone beds and channel bodies; and member V, interbedded/admixed sandstone and siltstone with abundant tuffs. Member I marks an initial marine transgression from shoreface to offshore depths. Member II records the maximum water depth of the shelf. Member III is interpreted to be a slump sheet; plausible mechanisms for its emplacement include seismicity produced by tectonism or glacio-isostatic rebound, changes in pore-water pressures due to sea-level fluctuations, or an increase in sedimentation rates. Members IV and V record minor fluctuations in depositional environments from offshore to shoreface water depths. Member IV includes regionally extensive, large channel bodies, with composite fills that are interpreted as storm-influenced mass-flow deposits. Member V includes a greater abundance of volcanic ash. Glacial controls (isostasy, eustasy) and tectonic affects may have worked in concert to produce the changes in depositional environments observed in the Wandrawandian Siltstone.