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New insights into the condensed nature and stratigraphic significance of the Late Neogene Ariki Formation, Taranaki Basin

The Ariki Formation is a distinctive Late Miocene – Early Pliocene marl facies rich in planktic foraminifera, reaching thicknesses in the range 70 - 109 m in most exploration holes drilled into the Western Platform northwest of Taranaki Peninsula. In Awatea-1 and Mangaa-1 in the Northern Graben, however, there are two marl units separated by the Mangaa “B” Sands. The lower unit has the same upper Tongaporutuan and Kapitean age as the lower part of the marl on the Western Platform, and the upper marl has an Upper Opoitian - Waipipian age, similar to the upper part of the Ariki Formation on the platform. In other holes located on the margins of the graben there can be one thin marly horizon, which usually correlates with the upper marl unit in Awatea-1 and Mangaa-1. The presence of two marly units in the Northern Graben, which are probably amalgamated on the western Platform, suggests two periods of late Neogene condensed sedimentation in northern Taranaki Basin arising from siliciclastic sediment starvation, separated by a period of submarine fan accumulation (Mangaa ‘B’ sands) following subsidence of the Northern Graben. We attribute the initial interval of marl accumulation mainly to a marked landward shift in the position of coastal onlap in central and southern Taranaki and in the region east of the Taranaki Fault Zone (southern King Country and northern Wanganui regions), which effectively shut-off the supply of siliciclastic sediment to northern Taranaki Basin, thereby enabling marl to accumulate. The start of accumulation of the upper part of the Ariki Formation and its marly correlatives in and around the Northern Graben, is attributed to a younger (upper Opoitian) landward shift in the position of coastal onlap, this time involving the formation of the Wanganui Basin depocentre and Toru Trough, which trapped the contemporary siliciclastic sediment being supplied from the south. A lower Opoitian phase of progradation between these two phases of retrogradation led to accumulation of the lower part of the Mangaa Formation (Mangaa ’B’ sands), which was limited in its extent to the Northern Graben because bounding normal faults had by then developed sea floor relief precluding mass-emplaced siliciclastic sediment from being deposited on the higher standing Western Platform. The accumulation of Ariki Formation marl in northern Taranaki Basin ended during the mid-Pliocene due to progradation of a thick continental margin wedge (Giant Foresets Formation) across the Northern Graben and Western Platform.
Conference Contribution
Type of thesis
Hansen, R. J. & Kamp, P. J. J. (2008). New insights into the condensed nature and stratigraphic significance of the Late Neogene Ariki Formation, Taranaki Basin. In Proceedings of 2008 New Zealand Petroleum Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 9-12 March 2008.
Ministry of Economic Development
This article has been published in Proceedings of New Zealand Petroleum Conference 2008. Copyright 2008 The Authors.