GEOCHEMICAL AND MINERALOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE PROVENANCE OF MIXED VOLCANOGENIC/TERRIGENOUS HEMIPELAGIC SEDIMENTS IN THE PLIOCENE– PLEISTOCENE WOODLARK BACKARC RIFT BASIN, SOUTHWEST PACIFIC: OCEAN DRILLING PROGRAM LEG 180
Robertson, Alastair H F
Sharp, Timothy R
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Middle Miocene to Holocene fine-grained argillaceous sediments (clays, claystones/muds, and mudstones), which volumetrically dominated the sediment recovery in the Woodlark Basin during Leg 180, were chemically analyzed for major elements, trace elements, and some rare earth elements by X-ray fluorescence. Selected samples also underwent X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis for mineral determination. The results shed light on sediment provenance when combined with shipboard sediment descriptions, smear slide study, and XRD. The oldest sediments recovered (Site 1108) of middle–late Miocene age include volcanogenic muds with distinctive high MgO and K2O, indicative of a relatively basic calc-alkaline source related to an inferred Miocene forearc succession. The forearc basement, composed of diabase and basalt, was locally exposed (Site 1109) and eroded in the late Miocene (<5.4–9.93 Ma), giving rise to fluvial conglomerates (Sites 1109, 1115, and 1118). Chemically distinctive fine-grained claystones and siltstones (with relatively high Ti, low K) are compatible with derivation from tropically weathered basic igneous rocks, correlated with the Paleogene Papuan ophiolite. Overlying latest Miocene–Pleistocene fine-grained sediments throughout the Woodlark Basin were partly derived from calc-alkaline volcanic sources. However, relatively high abundances of Al2O3 and related element oxides (K2O and Na2O) and trace elements (e.g., Rb and Y) reflect an additional terrigenous input throughout the basin, correlated with pelitic metamorphic rocks exposed on Papua New Guinea and adjacent areas. In addition, sporadic high abundances of Cr and Ni, some other trace metals, and related minerals (talc, crysotile, and chlorite) reflect input from an ophiolitic terrain dominated by ultramafic rocks, correlated with the Paleogene Papuan ophiolite. The source areas possibly included serpentinized ultramafic ophiolitic rocks exposed in the Papua New Guinea interior highlands. Chemical evidence further indicates that fine-grained terrigenous sediment reached the Woodlark Basin throughout its entire late Miocene–Holocene history. Distinctive high-K volcanogenic muds rich in tephra and volcanic ash layers that appear at <2.3 Ma (Sites 1109 and 1115) are indicative of high-K calc-alkaline volcanic centers, possibly located in the Dawson Strait, Moresby Strait, or Dobu Seamount area. Chemical diagenesis of fine-grained sediments within the Woodlark Basin is reflected in clay neomorphism and localized formation of minerals including dolomite, ankerite, and zeolite but has had little effect on the bulk chemical composition of most samples.