Phreatomagmatic boulder conglomerates at the tip of the ca 2772 Ma Black Range dolerite dyke, Pilbara Craton, Western Australia

Martin J. Van Kranendonk, W. Bleeker, J. Ketchum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Unusual volcanic conglomerates with a mixture of well-rounded granitic boulders (to 1.2 m diameter) derived from adjacent basement rocks, and smaller (1-10 cm) subspherical basaltic droplets with chilled margins occupy a linear zone along strike of the northern end of the Late Archaean Black Range dolerite dyke in the Pilbara Craton, Western Australia. The matrix of the volcanic conglomerates becomes more angular with decreasing grainsize and grades to rock flour, a trend opposite to that in sedimentary conglomerates. In other places, the matrix consists of chlorite that cuts through, and resorbs, granitic clasts, indicating an origin as volcanic melt. The volcanic conglomerates have peperitic contacts with immediately adjacent flows of the Mt Roe Basalt of the Fortescue Group. A welded volcanic tuff at the peperitic contact is dated at 2767 ± 3 Ma, within error of the 2772 ± 2 Ma Black Range dolerite dyke and the Mt Roe Basalt (2775 ± 10 Ma), confirming the contemporaneity of formation of these geological elements. Subsequent normal faulting has juxtaposed the higher level conglomerates down into their present exposure level along strike of the Black Range dolerite dyke. The linear zone of volcanic conglomerates is interpreted to represent a phreatomagmatic pebble dyke that formed immediately above, and as a result of intrusion of, the Black Range dolerite dyke. Interaction of magma with groundwater caused phreatomagmatic brecciation of the country rock, in situ milling of granitic boulders, incorporation of basaltic melt droplets, and the formation of a mixed matrix of devitrified volcanic glass and granitic material. This process was accompanied by along-strike epithermal Cu-Hg-Au mineralisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-630
Number of pages14
JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Archaean
  • Black Range dolerite
  • Conglomerates
  • Mafic dykes
  • Phreatomagmatic processes
  • Pilbara Craton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Phreatomagmatic boulder conglomerates at the tip of the ca 2772 Ma Black Range dolerite dyke, Pilbara Craton, Western Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this