Extensive Volcanism Associated with the Separation of Australia and Antarctica

Science  19 Oct 1984:
Vol. 226, Issue 4672, pp. 346-348
DOI: 10.1126/science.226.4672.346


Alternating hard and soft layers characterize the Gull Rock and Tuit Members of the late Eocene Blanche Point Formation, South Australia. Originally the formation was mainly a mixture of volcanic ash, sponge spicules, and calcareous fossil remains, with hard layers produced later by selective silicification. It resembles Cretaceous sediments from western Europe and the eastern coast of the United States, and in each case it appears that alteration of volcanic ash produced smectite and clinoptilolite with release of silica that subsequently crystallized as opal-CT. The occurrence of similar deposits from New Zealand to as far west as Albany, Western Australia, indicates extensive volcanic activity south of Australia in the late Eocene resulting from rifting and separation from Antarctica.