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Petrologic evidence for earliest Miocene tectonic mobility on eastern Taranaki Basin margin

At Gibsons Beach on the west coast of central North Island, the earliest Miocene (Waitakian) Otorohanga Limestone, the top-most formation in the Te Kuiti Group, is unconformably overlain on an undulating, locally channelised erosion surface by the Early Miocene (Otaian) Papakura Limestone at the base of the Waitemata Group. The basal facies of the Papakura Limestone is a conglomerate composed exclusively of tightly packed pebble- to cobble-sized clasts of skeletal limestone sourced from the underlying Otorohanga Limestone. This petrographic and geochemical study demonstrates that the Otorohanga Limestone was partially lithified during marine and shallow-burial cementation at subsurface depths down to a few tens of metres prior to uplift, erosion and cannibalisation of the limestone clasts into the Papakura Limestone. Strontium isotope dating of fossils from both the Otorohanga and Papakura Limestones at Gibsons Beach yield comparable ages of about 22 Ma, close to the Waitakian/Otaian boundary, indicating very rapid tectonic inversion and erosion of the section occurred in the earliest Miocene. We envisage the clasts of Otorohanga Limestone were sourced from a proximal shoreline position and redeposited westwards by episodic debris flows onto a shallow-shelf accumulating mixed siliciclastic-skeletal carbonate deposits of the Papakura Limestone. Subsequent burial of both limestones by rapidly accumulating Waitemata Group sandstone and flysch instigated precipitation of widespread burial cements from pressure dissolution of carbonate material at subsurface depths from about 100 m to 1.0 km. The vertical tectonic movements registered at Gibsons Beach can be related to the oblique compression associated with the development of the Australian-Pacific plate boundary through New Zealand at about this time and coincide with overthrusting of basement into Taranaki Basin between mid-Waitakian (earliest Miocene) and Altonian (late Early Miocene) times.
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
Hood, S. D., Nelson, C. S., Kamp, P. J. J. & Tripathi, A. (2006). Petrologic evidence for earliest Miocene tectonic mobility on eastern Taranaki Basin margin. In Proceedings of New Zealand Petroleum Conference 2006, 6 – 10 March.
Ministry of Economic Development
This article has been published in Proceedings of New Zealand Petroleum Conference 2006. ©2006 S. D. Hood, C. S. Nelson, P. J. J. Kamp & A. A. Tripathi.