Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Tubular Structures in the Ediacaran Drummond Sequence in Lanark County, Ontario

In my March blog postings I reported finding the Ediacaran fossil Aspidella together with  Ediacaran fronds and various microbial mat structures, in sedimentary rocks northeast of Perth, Ontario that I designated  the Drummond Sequence.   Below  are two of the more convincing photographs.

As noted in earlier posts, I believe that there is at most a thin veneer of lower Ordovician March Formation at the top of the Drummond Sequence and that most of the rocks in the sequence are Ediacaran in age. 

I looked through my collection of photographs from the Drummond Sequence for slabs with a similar style of preservation to that shown in the first of the above two photographs.   Below is a one such photograph showing tubular structures together with an enlarged extract from the photo.

I believe that the photographs shows an Ediacaran tubular fossil rather than stalks, but this is not clear.

Below are two photos of another slab displaying the same style of preservation.

Again it is not clear whether the tubular structures represent tubular fossils or stalks.

The same, or very similar tubes, are shown in a different mode of preservation:

Christopher Brett
Perth, Ontario

A Concentric Circular Structure in Rocks of the Ottawa Embayment that are Mapped as the Ordovician Gull River Formation

In my March blog postings I reported finding the concentric, circular, Ediacaran fossil Aspidella together with  Ediacaran fronds and various microbial mat structures, in sedimentary rocks northeast of Perth, Ontario that I designated as the Drummond Sequence.   The Drummond Sequence is found in Drummond/North Elmsley Township in  Lanark County.  The rocks at the top of the Drummond Sequence have been mapped as the Ordovician March Formation by the Ontario Geological Survey, but it is not clear that they belong to the March Formation.   

Below are photographs of a concentric, circular structure observed in a slab of rock at a quarry  in the United County of Leeds and Grenville, Ontario that has been mapped as the Ordovician Gull River Formation by the Ontario Geological Survey.

The outermost of the light coloured inner concentric rings is about five inches in diameter.  The outer ring is about a foot in diameter. My best guess for this structure is that it is more likely to be a cross-section of a dewatering structure or  a cross-section of a concretion, than an Ordovician, Cambrian or Ediacaran discoid fossil (such as Tirasiana)

The part and counterpart of the slab were available for collecting, but both were too heavy for me to lift.  The slabs are at the edge of a blast pile at the quarry.  I did not ask when the pile is slated to be crushed, but it will likely be before next spring.

Despite an hour searching, no other fossils were found in these beds.

These rocks have been mapped as the Gull River Formation by the Ontario Geological Survey.  Williams (1991)  notes that “Brachiopods, bryozoa, corals, crinoids, ostracods, gastropods, pelecypods, cephalopods, trilobites, and stromatolites are abundant” in the Gull River formation. I found no indication of any of those fossils at this location.  An individual who has looked at these beds told me prior to my search that there are no fossils at this location.

I did find a small trace fossil in an outcrop of overlying beds that do not appear to be part of the sequence mapped by the Ontario Geological Survey as the Gull River Formation.  Below is a photograph of this trace fossil.  The numbers on the ruler record centimeters.

This specimen was found in a bed on a bench at the quarry that is scheduled for blasting next spring.

Christopher Brett


Brett, Christopher, 2019a
Concentric Structures in the Sedimentary Rocks of Lanark County, Ontario that are identical to the Ediacaran Holdfast Aspidella.  http://fossilslanark.blogspot.com/2019/03/holdfasts-in-lower-ordovician-march.html

Brett, Christopher, 2019b
If the Ediacaran discoid holdfast Aspidella, why not Ediacaran Stalks, Spindles and Fronds in Lanark County?

Williams, D.A., 1991.
Paleozoic Geology of the Ottawa-St. Lawrence Lowland, Southern  Ontario; Ontario Geological Survey, Open File Report 5770, 292p.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Phenocrysts in a Bed of Porphyritic Volcanic Rock in the Ordovician Sedimentary Rocks of the Ottawa Embayment, Eastern Ontario - Part 3 - The K-Bentonite Occurrence at Tenth Line Rd. and St. Joseph Blvd, Ottawa

Since my July 28, 2019 and August 7, 2019 blog postings I’ve continued to find articles referring to K-Bentonite (altered volcanic ash) in Eastern Ontario.   For example:
-   Kolata, Huff and Bergström (1996) briefly described an Ordovician K-bentonite bed at a quarry near Aylmer, Quebec (just across the river from Ottawa) noting that this bed is as much as 17 cm thick.  
- Salad Hersi (1998) reported on a Bentonite layer in a roadcut at the intersection of Tenth Line Rd. and St. Joseph Blvd. in Orleans, Ontario (now part of Ottawa),  within the Hull Formation about 1 meter below the base of the Verulam Formation.  
- Kierman (1999) analyzed those two K-Bentonites from the Ottawa Embayment: one at the Klock Quarry in Aylmer, Quebec, and the second near the intersection of St. Joseph Blvd. and Tenth Line Rd. in Orleans, Ontario about 1 m below the base of the Verulam Formation.
- Dix and Jolicoeur ( 2011) discuss bentonite layers in the Ordovician Billings Formation and Carlsbad Formation, Eastern Ontario. 
-  Oruche, Dix and Kamob (2018) report on the Millbrig K-bentonite volcanic ash bed and the bentonite bed in the Hull Formation in the Ottawa embayment, tracing both across Eastern Ontario.   
- Carrier (2018) reports on two bentonite layers in the Ordovician limestone at the Clark Quarry in Stittsville in the west end of Ottawa.

On August 16, 2019 I visited the outcrop at the southeast corner of the intersection of Tenth Line Road  and St. Joseph Boulevard in Orleans.  The K-bentonite bed is about two centimeters thick,  is concordant with the underlying and overlying strata,  is a chalky white colour, is recessive, has both a gritty and soapy feel, and extends over the length of the outcrop (at least 30 meters).  No visible crystals are present.  Many articles report that often a K-bentonite bed can be found because plants preferentially grow in the K-bentonite, and this feature was observed at this outcrop.  I took the following photographs of the K-bentonite bed at that location.

Historical References to Bentonite Clay

Many early references to what we now call bentonite clay refer to it as soap clay,  mineral soap, edible clay or edible earth.   Selwyn (1874), for an occurrence near Edmonton mentions “Immediately above the coal seam is a layer of a brown greasy clay six or eight inches thick. This clay works into a lather like soap, and Dr. Hector says it was used by the women at the fort for washing blankets. A sample of it, analysed by Mr. Hoffmann in the Survey laboratory, shews it to be a hydrous silicate of alumina*...    * For analysis of this soap-clay see Appendix.”.   McConnell (1889) in a report on the Yukon and MacKenzie Basins mentions “The most interesting part of this section was under water at the time of my visit, and can only be examined in the autumn. ... The edible clay bed ... was just visible below the surface of the water, and a specimen was dug up with the paddle. This clay is of a light yellowish color, and is highly plastic. It is used for whitewashing purposes, and in former times served the Indians as a substitute for soap.”  Allan and Sanderson (1945) identify Selwyn’s and McConnell’s reports as the earliest references to bentonite in Western Canada.

Condra (1908) was the first to link bentonite with volcanic ash commenting “ Professor Todd has noted the existence of a thin but very persistent layer of clay closely resembling bentonite near the middle of the Carlile formation. It varies from 1 1/2  to 3 inches thick. .. . It is suggested that it may originally have been a thin stratum of volcanic ash.”   Others to make the connection were Hewitt (1917) and Wherry (1917).  Keele (1920) might have been the first in Canada to write that bentonite formed from weathered volcanic rocks commenting "The clay is deposited in a flat at the base of outcrops of volcanic rocks and is evidently composed of the weathered products of these rocks" and "volcanic rocks are the source for that gelatinous clay known as bentonite."

Over the course of three papers, Professor W. C. Knight of the University of Wyoming identified novel clay deposits in Wyoming and named the clay Bentonite.  In the first paper, Knight (1893) reported on large beds of ‘fire clay’ in Wyoming, specifically mentioning localities at Rock Creek station on the railroad line (from which several carloads of clay had been shipped to New York) and at Crook County where “a bank of clay has been discovered in Cretaceous rocks which has been called mineral soap or Saponite. The clay when moistened has an  unctuous feeling resembling soap; but in chemical constituents it could not be classed as a mineral soap.”  He also provided chemical analyses of the two clays.   In the second  paper, Knight (1897a) mentions that “Since the year 1888 Mr. William Taylor of Rock Creek Station,...  has shipped to various parts of the United States occasional carloads of a peculiar clay , which, for convenience, may be hereafter known as “Taylorite”. ... The present quarry operated by Mr. Taylor is a quarter mile north of the railroad, but at a point further to the eastward the railroad cuts through the bed. ... When taken from the quarry it has an unctuous feeling, and when water is added , it forms an emulsion . ... Inappropriately this clay has been called ‘mineral soap’ on account of its soapy feeling in water.”    In an abstract of Knight’s second paper, Spencer (1898) noted that the proposed name taylorite is “a name already in use.”  In his third  paper, Knight (1898) mentions that he had learned that “the name Taylorite is preoccupied; consequently it will henceforth be known as Bentonite.” and provided four analyses of Bentonite.

Interestingly, Knight’s (1893) paper has been largely overlooked.  Keele (1920) is the only paper that I found referring to Knight’s first paper.  
Knechtel (1952), and  Hosterman  and Patterson (1992,) credit  Engelmann  (1858) with being the  first to describe the clay that we now call bentonite.   This is Engelmann’s (1858, p.  511) description of clay in the Cretaceous age strata in Carbon County, Wyoming:

Between Medicine-Bon creek and Pass creek, south of the butte, was an exposure of sandy, argillaceous slate, and above it a layer of a yellow unctuous matter, covered on the surface with an efflorescence of salts, which seemed to be a product of the decomposition of the igneous rocks. It readily imbibes water, and thereby increases much in volume and becomes plastic. An analysis of a piece which had lost most of its soluble parts gave--
Water, 18 per cent.; silica, 51 per cent. ; alumnia, 30 per cent. ; calcia, traces.
     Nearer to camp 42 were similar layers; some, also, yellowish, some green, with a talcose structure. The specimens of this variety separated in the water into a light yellow stuff like the other, and in dark colored heavier particles. Analysis gave:
Water, 14 per cent.; silica, 55.5 per cent. ; alumina, 30.5 per cent.; calcia, traces.   
     It is, therefore, a mineral similar in its composition and properties to the bole and pimelithe. Many crystals of gypsum were disseminated through these strata, and efflorescences of salt on the surface tasted like potash or soda.

Knechtel (1952) comments that “Engelmann's citations of bole and pimelite for comparison seem appropriate enough, in view of the stage of development of mineralogic thought in his time.  In the contemporary edition of Dana’s System of Mineralogy (1854, pp. 252, 503) bole is defined as material closely resembling halloysite both in appearance an in its large content of water; “.    Halloysite is an aluminosilicate clay mineral.  Pimelite is a light green, somewhat greasy or waxy, smectite clay.

Intriguingly, there are many earlier papers on Fuller’s Earth, edible clay and other clays that  refer to a clay that we would now call Bentonite.   Not all reports of Fuller’s earth are bentonite, but many are.  For example, Sir Roderick Murchison (1839) reported on layers of saponaceous clay/Fuller’s earth  in the Upper Silurian rocks of Herefordshire that are now identified as bentonite (Huff,  Morgan,  Rundle,  1996 ).    This is Sir Roderick Murchison’s (1839) report: “these flagstones are separated from the overlying Aymestry limestone, by courses of a saponaceous clay (in many instances a complete fuller's-earth) , of a yellowish white and grey colour, which is commonly known throughout Herefordshire and the adjacent counties under the name of “Walker's earth, or soap," and is sometimes used by the country people for cleansing purposes. Beds of this " Walker's  earth" are not infrequent in other parts of the Upper Silurian Rocks, particularly in the Wenlock shale;  and it will afterwards appear, that from their saponaceous qualities the surfaces of these beds have frequently aided the slipping of superincumbent masses of rock.”   In addition, Fitton (1847) described a Fuller’s earth bed from the Isle of Wight that has now been identified as Bentonite by Ruffell et al. (2002).  As well,  Fitton (1836) had earlier identified a number of Fuller’s earth beds in the southeast of England that are likely bentonite (see Hallam & Sellwood,  1968;  Goldring, 1999).

One of the more interesting papers that I found was by Wynne (1878), who  in a report on the geology of the Salt Range in the Punjab mentions a clay-ash/decomposed rock found with volcanic rock used as soap, commenting: “Lavender Clay. The lavender clay-ash or decomposed rock found with the volcanic rock of Nilawán, &c., is used by the natives as soap or to assist in washing.”    Ball’s (1881) and Watt’s (1889)  comments on the fire clays, fuller’s earth and edible clays of India are also intriguing, particularly Watt’s comment (at page 362) on the “The sabún mití or soap-earth of Colgong in the Bhagalpur Division”, Bengal.    Kirwan (1794) devotes pages 174 to 206 of this very early text on mineralogy to clays and earths, a few of which might be worth following up on to determine whether they can be linked to bentonite, particularly one that ‘imbibed water strongly’ and "is often of pseudo- volcanic origin, ...  and perhaps also sometimes really volcanic; but it also  frequently arises from the decomposition, or disintegration, of other stones."   Muir's (1878) paper on an edible clay eaten by sheep in New Zealand is interesting because it contains an analysis of the clay (and not just because the sheep were eating clay), and if the clay is Bentonite would be an early British analysis of Bentonite.

A number of authors  have investigated  the references to Fuller’s earth and other earths used in ancient Greece, by the Roman Empire and in the Middle Ages.   For example, the Cimolian earth mentioned by Pliny the Elder (AD 79) in Naturalis Historia is said to be bentonite (Beneke and Lagaly, 2002, page 64;  Williams,  2013, page 254; Pabst  and Koøánová,  2009, page 89) while the gray earth at Kaaden  mentioned by Agricola (1546)  “is the bentonite of the Rokle deposit type, the major Czech bentonite deposit of today”  (Pabst  and Koøánová,  2009, page 94).  Robertson (1949) mentions that Pliny the Elder recorded in Book  xxxv of his  Natural  History that the earth saxum has the property of increasing in bulk when soaked in water, and states that “the suggestion that saxum is really the first record of bentonite is strengthened by the fact that bentonite has been worked commercially in Italy on Ponza Island near Naples since 1935.”  Pittinger (1975) reviewed the mineral products of the Greek island of  Melos in antiquity, and concludes that alumen of Pliny the Elder “is the bentonited mined today” on Melos, while the Melian earth of Theophrastus (c.  372-322 B.C.)  “could describe certain bentonitic deposits of high silica content, extensive on Melos.”  Koutsopoulou , Christidis and Marantos (2016) mention that the bentonites from the Greek Island of Samos –  Samian Earth – has been utilized since ancient times, but that the bentonites are mined now only at a local scale.  Christidis  and Scott (1993) note that “Greek bentonites have been exploited since ancient times and the clays on the island of Milos and Kimolos are mentioned by Theophrastus in his work ‘About Stones’.”  However, Caley and  Richards (1956, 208-9) had different interpretations for Theophrastus’  Melian earth, Kimolian earth and Samian earth.

Christopher Brett

References and Suggested Reading

Agricola, Georgius, 1546
De natura fossilium. Froben, Basel.   [ 1955, De Natura Fossilium - Textbook of
Mineralogy . English translation by M.C. Bandy and J.A. Bandy for the Mineralogical Society of America, Special Paper 63), Geological Society of America, New York.
http://farlang.com/books/agricola-bandy-de-natura-fossilium    ]

Anonymous, 1898
Mineral Soap.  American Soap Journal and Perfume Gazette, volume VIII, No. 12, page 412

Anonymous, 1922
The mineral "bentonite": its occurrence and uses.  Bulletin of the Imperial Institute, vol. 20,  pages 344-349

Anonymous, 2019a       
Loxter Ashbed Quarry.   Upper Ludlow Shales over massive Aymestrey Limestone with thin bentonite horizons displaying an open anticline plunging S. [Photographs of bentonite layers.]

Anonymous, 2019b       
Whitman’s Hill Quarry -  Herefordshire & Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust.   [Photographs of bentonite layers.]

Allan, John. A. And Sanderson, J.O.G., 1945
Geology of Red Deer and Rosebud Sheets, Alberta.  Res Council Alberta Report 13, 51 pages
Bentonite at pages 49-51; clay at 52

Beneke, Klaus and Lagaly, Gerhard, 2002
From Fuller’s Earth to Bleaching Earth: A Historical Note.  ECGA (European Clay Group Association) Newsletter No.5, July 2002, page 57-78

Ball, V., 1881
A Manual of the Geology of India: Part III. Economic geology . Calcutta: Office of the Geological Survey of India. London: Trübner & Co.  663 pages.  clay at pages 561- 571

Caley, E.R. and J.C. Richards, 1956,
Theophrastus on Stones, Columbus: Ohio State University.

Carretero,  M.Isabel, 2002
Clay minerals and their beneficial effects upon human health.   Applied Clay Science, Volume 21, Issues 3–4, June 2002, Pages 155-163

Carrier, Maureen, 2018
Geology of the Ottawa Region with Dr. Wouter Bleeker, October 13,2018 – Macnamara Field Naturalists' Club

Christidis, George and Scott, Peter W., 1993
Laboratory evaluation of bentonites.  Industrial Minerals, August 1993, pages 51-57

Condra, G. E., 1908,
Geology and water resources of a portion of the Missouri River valley in Northeaster Nebraska: U.S. Geol. Survey Water-Supply Paper 215, 59 pages 

Eisenhour, Don D. And Brown,  Richard K., 2009
Bentonite and Its Impact on Modern Life.  Elements (2009) 5 (2): 83-88.

Engelmann, Henry, 1858,
Report of a geological exploration from Fort Leavenworth to Bryan's Pass, made in connection with the survey of a road from Fort Riley to Bridger’s Pass, under command of Lieutenant F.T. Bryan, topographic engineer, 1856, in Report of the Secretary of War, 1857: U.S. Congress, 35th, 1st session, p. 489-517.

Fisher, C. A., 1905
The bentonite deposits of Wyoming. In Bulletin 260  United States  Geological  Survey, 1905, pp 559-563

Fitton, William Henry,  1824
Inquiries respecting the Geological Relations of the Beds between the Chalk and the Purbeck Limestone in the Southeast of England. [Thomson's] Annals of Philosophy for 1824, New Series, vol. viii, 365-383

Fitton, William Henry, 1836
 Observations on some of the Strata between the Chalk and the Oxford Oolite, in the South-east of England.  [Read June 15, 1827.]    Transactions of the Geological Society,  2nd Series, vol. iv. p. 103- 388 https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/111668#page/121/mode/1up
Isle of Wight starts 182

Fitton , W.H. 1847.
A stratigraphical account of the section  from Atherfield to Rocken-End, in the Isle of Wight.
Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, 3, 289-328.

Goldring, R. 1999.
Sedimentological aspects and preservation of Lower Cretaceous (Aptian) bentonites (fuller's earth) in southern England. Neues Jahrbuch fur Geologie und Palaontologie, 214, 3-24.
DOI: 10.1127/njgpa/214/1999/3

Hallam, A. & Sellwood, B.W. 1968.
 Origin of fuller's earth in the Mesozoic in southern England. Nature, 220, 1193-1195.

Hewitt, D. F.,  1917
The origin of bentonite and the geologic range of related materials in Bighorn, Wyoming. Journal fo the Washington. Academy of  Sciences, volume 7, 196-198

Hosterman, John W.  and Patterson, Sam H., 1992
Bentonite and Fuller’s Earth Resources of the United States.  U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1522.  45 pages

Huff, W.D.; Morgan, D.J.; Rundle, C.C.. 1996    
Silurian K-bentonites of the Welsh Borderlands : geochemistry, mineralogy and K-ar ages of illitization  . Nottingham, UK, British Geological Survey. (WG/96/045) (Unpublished)

Jameson, Robert, 1820
A System of Mineralogy, in which Minerals are Arranged According to the Natural History Method, Third Edition, Volume 2.  Edinburgh: Archibald Constable & Co.  London: Hurst, Robinson & Co.   632 pages.  Fuller’s Earth at pages 300-304 https://books.google.com/books/about/A_System_of_Mineralogy_in_which_Minerals.html?id=Bc5aEjAY5dQC

Keele, J., 1915
Clay and Shale deposits of the western provinces, part 5; Keele, J. Geological Survey of Canada, Memoir no. 66, 1915, 74 pages, https://doi.org/10.4095/101562

Keele, J., 1920
Ceramic Division, 153-, in  Summary Report of the Mines Branch for the Calendar Year Ending December 31, 1918.

Kirwan, Richard, 1794
Elements of Mineralogy, 2nd Edition, Volume 1,
Argillaceous Genus174-206, Fuller’s Earth  p. 184

Knechtel, Maxwell M., 1952
Early Ideas on Origin of Bentonite. Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Volume 36, Issues 1-6, pages 884–886

Knight, W. C., 1893
Geology of the Wyoming Experiment Farms, and Notes on the Mineral Resources of the State.
Bulletin No. 14  by University of Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station, October, 1893, pages 103-211;   Fire Clays at 193-4

Knight, W. C., 1897a 
“Mineral Soap”.  Engineering and Mining Journal, Volume LXIII, June 12, 1897, 600-601

Knight, W. C., 1897b 
That “Mineral Soap.”  American Soap Journal and Perfume Gazette, volume VIII, No 4, page 125, July 1, 1897

Knight, W. C. , 1898
Bentonite.  Engineering and Mining Journal, vol 66, October 22, 1898, p. 491

Koutsopoulou, E. ; G.E. Christidis; and  I. Marantos 2016
Mineralogy, geochemistry and physical properties of bentonites from the Western Thrace Region and the islands of Samos and Chios, East Aegean, Greece. Clay Minerals (2016) 51 (4): 563-588.  https://doi.org/10.1180/claymin.2016.051.4.03

Mackenzie, R.C., 1979
Clay Mineralogy - Whence and Whither?   Developments in Sedimentology, Volume 27, 1979, Pages 1-14  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0070-4571(08)70696-4

McConnell, R.G., 1889
Report On An Exploration in the Yukon and MacKenzie Basins, N.W.T.,  1D-161D, in Geological Survey of Canada Report of Progress 1888-89, clay at page 99D

Muir, M. M. Pattison, 1878
Note on an Edible Clay from New Zealand.   Proceedings of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, volume 17, pages 6-7

Murchison, Roderick Impey, 1839
The Silurian System. Part 1. London: John Murray. 576 pages
Walker’s Earth, Walker’s soap  at pages 204, 249

O'Shaughnessy,  W. B.,  1841
Report and Correspondence on the Manufacture of an Improved Pottery from Indian Clays. The Bengal Dispensoatory and Pharmacopoeia.  18 pages

Pabst, Willi and Koøánová, Renata, 2009
Prehistory of clay mineralogy – from ancient times to Agricola.  Acta Geodyn. Geomater., Vol. 6, No. 1 (153), 87–100, 2009
https://www.irsm.cas.cz › materialy › acta_content › 6_Pabst

Pittinger, Jill,  1975
The Mineral Products of Melos in Antiquity and Their Identification.  The Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. 70 (1975), pp. 191-197     https://www.jstor.org/stable/30103322

Pliny the Elder,  written before AD 79, printed 1469
Naturalis Historia, [The Natural History, Book XXXV. An account of paintings and colours. As translated by John Bostock. 
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:abo:phi,0978,001:35 ]
Also: http://perseus.uchicago.edu/perseus-cgi/citequery3.pl?dbname=PerseusLatinTexts&getid=1&query=Plin.%20Nat.%2035.56

Ries, H; and Keele, J. 1913
 Report on the clay and shale deposits of the western provinces, part II.  Geological Survey of Canada, Memoir no. 25, 1913, 136 pages,    https://doi.org/10.4095/100499

Robertson, Robert H. S., 1949
The Fuller's Earths of the Elder Pliny.  The Classical Review, Volume 63, Issue 2,    September 1949 , pp. 51-52      DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0009840X00094749

Robertson,  R.  H.  S.,  1958.
The  earths  of  Theophrastus.  Classical  Rev.,  8:  222-223.

Ruffell, A.H.,  Hesselbo, S.P.,  Wach, G.D., Simpson, M.I. and D.S.Wray, 2002
Fuller's earth (bentonite) in the Lower Cretaceous (Upper Aptian) of Shanklin (Isle of Wight, southern England).  Proceedings of the Geologists' Association,  Volume 113, Issue 4, 2002, Pages 281-290.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0016-7878(02)80034-7

Selwyn, A.R.C., 1874   
Observations in the North West Territory on a Journey Across the Plains from Fort Garry to Rocky Mountain House Returning by the Saskatchewan River & Lake Winnepeg. Pages 17-62, in Geological Survey of Canada Report of Progress 1873-74,

Spence, H. S.,  1924
Bentonite. Canada Mines Branch, Publication 626, 1924, 45 pages, https://doi.org/10.4095/307808

Spencer, L.J..,  1898        
[Abstract of]  “Mineral Soap” By Wilbur C. Knight. Journal of the Chemical Society, London,  Volume 74, Part 2, page 610

Sutherland, Wayne M., 2014
Wyoming Bentonite.  Summary Report. Wyoming Geological Survey.  4 pages.

Theophrastus, [before] 287 BC
Περὶ λίθων  [Translation: on Stones], [see Caley, E.R. and J.C. Richards, 1956, Theophrastus on Stones,Columbus: Ohio State University

Watt, George, 1889
A Dictionary of the Economic Products of India - Volume 2. Calcutta, Government Printing Office, 689 pages. Clay at pages 360-367

Wherry, Edgar. T., 1917
Clay Derived from volcanic dust in the Pierre in South Dakota. Journal of the Washington. Academy of  Sciences, volume 7, 576-583

Williams,  Cheryll, 2013
Medicinal Plants in Australia Volume 4: An Antipodean Apothecary .  New South Wales, Australia: Rosenberg Publishing,  552 pages.   Page 254  Cimolian earth probably bentonite

Winer, A. A., 1954
Acid Activation Of Saskatchewan Bentonites.  Saskatchewan Department of Mineral Resources. Industrial Minerals Research Branch. Report of Investigations No. 4.

Wynne, A.B., 1878
Geology of the Salt Range in the Punjab.  Memoirs of the Geological Survey of India, volume 14, 313 pages, at page 300

The additional references are provided at the end of my July 28, 2019 blog posting.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Mark Your Calendars for a Tour of the Tatlock Quarry on Saturday, August 24th

Below is an advertisement from this week’s  Perth Courier for the tour of OMYA’s Tatlock Quarry on August 24th  from 10 am to 2pm, rain or shine.

The advertisement promises a bottle of OMYA’s Maple Syrup to those that bring a non-perishable food item or make a cash donation to the Lanark Food Pantry.    The syrup produced in past years has been excellent!

The Tatlock quarry is located in Lanark County about 30 km north of Perth up Highway 511, turning right on McIlraith Road.  There is more than ample parking available in the fields opposite the quarry entrance.   Below is a photo of the quarry that I took while on the 2015 tour.  The bus is barely visible at the bottom of the quarry.

OMYA is a world leader in the production of calcium carbonate which it mines from quarries located throughout the world.    OMYA’s quarry at Tatlock, Lanark County is the largest calcium carbonate mine in Canada and is said to produce the purest calcium carbonate in the world.  OMYA mines and crushes the calcium carbonate at the Tatlock quarry and processes the product at its plant west of Perth along Highway 7.   

The Tatlock quarry is about 900 meters long, 400 meters wide and 110 meters deep.  A  Google satellite view of the quarry can be obtained  by typing   45.145370, -76.497971 into the Google search engine and searching under MAPS, and switching to SatelliteView. 

Christopher Brett

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Phenocrysts in a Bed of Porphyritic Volcanic Rock in the Ordovician Sedimentary Rocks of the Ottawa Embayment, Eastern Ontario - Part 2

On Tuesday, August 6th,  I revisited the outcrop containing the bed of porphyritic volcanic rock to collect more specimens and to take a few measurements.

These points are worth noting.

-  The bed  of porphyritic volcanic rock is flat lying, concordant with the underlying and overlying strata, is a fairly consistent 4 cm thickness and extends over at least 30 square meters. 

- The feldspar phenocrysts are visible only  near the top of the bed.   (There is preferential staining on the surface layer, with the feldspars, because of their chemical composition, staining a different colour than the groundmass.) 
- The groundmass shows a great variety: much is chalk white, but some is brown, some a dark blue grey, some light grey, and a few minor spots are jet black. 

- Most of the groundmass and most of the phenocrysts are altered (probably to clay - Kaolin?), but some of the groundmass is a fairly fresh volcanic rock (welded ash?).

-  The bed that I identified as the bed of porphyritic volcanic rock may not be the only such bed  at this location, as there were some additional odd looking beds that would be worth further investigation.   My visit was cut short by a torrential thunderstorm, which was welcome as parts of Eastern Ontario have experienced near drought conditions over the last four weeks.

Here are photographs of a few of the specimens.  The first is cross-section showing the 4 cm bed  of porphyritic volcanic rock at the top of the specimen.  The second and third show groundmass that has not been altered.

The Ontario Geological Survey has mapped underlying beds as the Ordovician Gull River formation.  It is not clear to me which sedimentary formation the bed of porphyritic volcanic rock falls in, and whether it might still be in the Ordovician Gull River formation.

Christopher Brett

Addendum:  I’m looking for a university student that would like to work on these rocks as a fourth year thesis project, preferably a student at a Canadian University in or bordering the Ottawa embayment.   I collected twenty-two specimens, including the ones shown in photographs on my blog, most of which I’d be willing to donate.  I collected that many specimens as the crystal tuff is part of a bench (at a quarry) that is slated for blasting.  There is a lot of overlap in specimens.

An interesting question is  whether the volcanic rocks are Ordovician or  younger in age.  I put on my blog that “I expect that everyone will hypothesize that the rock I found resulted from a very large volcanic eruption from a volcanic island arc along the east coast of Laurentia during the Taconic orogeny, by a volcano that blasted the volcanic ash and phenocrysts high into the atmosphere.”   That may not be true as various ‘isopach’ maps of crystal size for crystals found in Ordovician K-bentonites show that the largest crystals are found in K-bentonites in the southern USA, with crystal size decreasing as one moves northward.   I had been thinking ‘Perhaps Acadian orogeny?’    In an email to me a friend  who has looked at the blog postings suggested that if  the volcanic rocks are younger than Ordovician then they might be Mesozoic, and directed me to the Mesozoic (Cretaceous) carbonatites in the Ottawa area.   

Lafleur and Hogarth (2011) [Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 18:1817-1823]  reported on Cambro-Proterozoic volcanism near Buckingham, Quebec (just across the river from Ottawa), but the age they report,  573 +- 32 Ma, is too old as the crystal tuff overlies Ordovician rocks.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Phenocrysts in a Bed of Porphyritic Volcanic Rock in the Ordovician Sedimentary Rocks of the Ottawa Embayment, Eastern Ontario

In the sedimentary rocks of the Ottawa Embayment I have found a thin bed of a porphyritic volcanic rock.    Feldspar phenocrysts make up over 50 percent of the rock and vary in size with the largest being  9 mm by 7 mm, and  12 mm x 5 mm.  Many measure about 7 mm x 5 mm.  This partially altered  porphyritic rock is a crystal tuff or crystal-vitric tuff, rather than K-bentonite (altered volcanic ash).    As the feldspar phenocrysts are a light colour they appear to be an alkali feldspar (Sanidine to Andesine), rather than one of the darker coloured Calcic Plagioclase feldspars.  I believe that I collected specimens of an altered porphyritic (rhyolite?) tuff, resulting from a volcanic eruption along the east coast of Laurentia during the Taconic orogeny.

Finding evidence of altered volcanic ash (K-bentonite beds) in the Ordovician rocks of Eastern Ontario and the Ordovician rocks of Eastern North America would  not be unusual, as occurrences have been reported for over eighty-five years, and the K-bentonite beds have been used as Ordovician stratigraphic marker horizons over much of the eastern United States and southern Ontario.  For example, Fyon (2019) provides good photos and an explanation of the K-bentonite volcanic ash beds in Ordovician limestone  at Marmora, Ontario, while  Sharma et al. (2005a, b) reported on a 6 cm thick K-bentonite (volcanic ash) bed in the Ordovician Billings Formation shales of the Ottawa Embayment, found in logged drill core from Russell, Ontario.   Kolata, Huff  and  Bergstrom (1996) reviewed the Ordovician K-bentonites of eastern North America, reporting “at least 60 volcanic ash beds, K-bentonites” within the Ordovician stratigraphic succession, concluding that the “parental magmas consisted of a calc-alkaline suite ranging from andesite, rhyodacite, trachyandesite and rhyolite” in a “setting characterized by destructive plate-margin volcanics” where erupted volcanic ash was “carried by the prevailing ... tradewinds for hundreds of kilometers ... and were deposited in shallow cratonic seas.”  For southern Ontario they report two K-bentonites in the Ordovician Gull River Formation (citing Liberty, 1969) and one in the Ordovician Bobcaygeon succession (citing Liberty, 1969), noting that “The Millbrig occurs in the same stratigraphic interval as [K-bentonite] bed MR, described by Liberty from near the base of the Bobcageon Formation in outcrops in the Lake Simcoe region, southwestern Ontario.”   Liberty’s (1969) reports are of k-bentonite clay layers.  

What is unusual for the rocks that I found is that there are visible phenocrysts and the size of the phenocrysts.   John Haynes (1989) describes the feldspars of the Ordovician Deicke and Millbrig K-bentonite Beds of the southeastern United States,  noting (page 37) that “Feldspars are the most abundant phenocrysts in the Dieke and Millbrig....Grain sizes vary greatly; the feldspars average less than .5 mm long in samples from the west-central Valley and Ridge in Virginia, and they average between 0.5 - 1 mm in samples from the Nashville Dome and the Valley and Ridge from southwestern Virginia to Alabama.”   He included a number of photomicrographs (Figs. 17-21)  of feldspar phenocrysts in his doctoral thesis, but the ones figured are less than a 2.5 mm long.  Others report even smaller crystals.  When Delano et al. (1990) examined 30 K-bentonites (altered volcanic ashes)  in the late Ordovician  Utica shale of New York State they found fragmental feldspar crystals up to 600 microns in diameter, with most crystals under 45 microns.

Haynes (1994) mentions “In the southeastern United States, identification of the Rocklandian Deicke and Millbrig K-bentonite Beds is based on differences in phenocryst mineralogy in the tuffaceous zones of each bed, and the two beds can be reliably and consistently distinguished on this basis. The common phenocrysts in the Deicke are labradorite and various Fe-Ti minerals, and in the Millbrig they are andesine, quartz, and biotite. Phenocrysts present in trace amounts are biotite and quartz in the Deicke, and apatite and zircon in both beds. The Deicke is altered dacitic or latitic ash, whereas the Millbrig is altered rhyodacitic ash. Both beds are interpreted as airfall deposits produced by huge volcanic eruptions, each of which was much larger and produced far more ash than the 1815 eruption of Tambora and even the great Toba eruption of 75 Ka.”  

Haynes (1994) notes that “Biotite, quartz, feldspars, and other clay minerals are present as primary phenocrysts and secondary phenocrysts in the Diecke and Millbrig in the study area – and in fact are so abundant and coarse grained in some zones that the material in those zones is tuffaceous rather than bentonitic – but the principal constituent of these and many other beds in Lower Paleozoic strata is mixed-layer illite/smectite (I/S) clay...”    I was lucky to find a tuffaceous rather than bentonitic layer.

There are numerous other reported occurrences where K-bentonite (volcanic ash) outcrops in Ontario and the Ottawa Embayment.  Brun and Chagnon (1979) reported three occurrences of clay (volcanic ash beds) in  Black River and Trenton Group (middle Ordovician) rocks of the Ottawa Embayment, at quarries in Aylmer, Lucerne and Hull, Quebec (just across the river from Ottawa). Suarez et al. (2016) reported a late Ordovician U-Pb zircon age from K-bentonite found in the Trenton Group near Kirkfield, Ontario.  Al-Delami and Dix (2009) reported two thin (~3 cm) biotite-bearing clay beds in the Upper Ordovician Verulam Formation (Ottawa Group)  in the western portion of the Ottawa Embayment, eastern Ontario, which they interpreted as altered volcanic ash from two related eruptive events.  Cornell (2001) reviewed the K-bentonite (volcanic ash) occurrences in Ordovician rocks in Ontario and New York State,  and reported  collecting and examining K-bentonite  at localities that  included  Brechin Quarry, Brechin Ontario; Miller Paving Quarry, Dalrymple, Ontario; Provincial Route 35 road cut just south of Coboconk, Ontario; Provincial Highway 7 road cut west of Marmora, Ontario; Bethlehem Steel Mine, Marmora Ontario; Provincial Route 2 road cut just east of Napanee, Ontario (below the highway department); QEW Highway 401 road cut at Montreal Street exit, Kingston, Ontario;  Division Street Quarry, Kingston, Ontario; and Barriefield Hill, near Kingston, Ontario.  (Inserted August 12, 2019):  Kolata, Huff and Bergström (1996) briefly described the Ordovician K-bentonite bed at the quarry near Aylmer, Quebec (just across the river from Ottawa) noting that this bed is as much as 17 cm thick.   Salad Hersi (1998) reported on a Bentonite layer in a roadcut at the intersection of Tenth Line Rd. and St. Joseph Blvd. in Orleans, Ontario (now part of Ottawa),  within the Hull Formation about 1 meter below the base of the Verulam Formation.   Kierman (1999) analyzed those two K-Bentonites from the Ottawa Embayment: one at the Klock Quarry in Aylmer, Quebec, and the second near the intersection of St. Joseph Blvd. and Tenth Line Rd. in Orleans, Ontario about 1 m below the base of the Verulam Formation.  Dix and Jolicoeur ( 2011) discuss bentonite layers in the Ordovician Billings Formation and Carlsbad Formation, Eastern Ontario.
I did not find a report of a porphyritic volcanic rock from the Ordovician rocks of the Ottawa Embayment.

The potassium-rich bentonite clay formed from altered volcanic ash was originally called bentonite, then metabentonite and only later called K-bentonite (Lounsbury  and Melhorn, 1963).  Kay (1929, 1931, 1935) reported on a six inch layer of  metabentonite (now, K-bentonite) north of Kingston, Ontario at the base of the Ordovician Glenburnie shale, and that the metabentonite had been identified at Napanee, Ontario.   Kay (1931, 1935) also reported  metabentonite occurrences in a number of exposures in the Ordovician Coboconk limestone between Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay, in Simcoe County, Ontario, with the best of the exposures at quarries  between Orillia and Coldwater.  Maddox (1930) reported a bed of  “bentonite” in Ordovician rocks in a well  2 1/2 miles southeast of Collingwood, Ontario, which Kay (1931) identified as a metabentonite (now, K-bentonite). Orr (1959) reported on samples of “metabentonite or K-bentonite” of Ordovician age from four separate quarries north of Lake Simcoe, Ontario: the first from two 1 inch seams  near the town of Medonte; the second from a 1/2 inch thick bentonite layer at the west quarry at the town of Coboconk; the third from an inch thick bentonite layer at an abandoned quarry 25 miles southwest of the town of Sebright; the fourth from the upper of two 1 inch bentonitic shale partings at a quarry north of the Longford Mills.

 K-bentonite (volcanic ash) layers within sedimentary rocks  are fairly common from the Precambrian  to the Tertiary (see Huff, 2016).   Crystal tuffs and tuffacious zones within K-bentonites layers  have been  reported from various  periods in addition to the Ordovician, but my initial online research suggests that the large size of the feldspar phenocrysts in the rock that I found is very unusual .  For example,  Dennison and Textoris (1978)  report that the Devonian Tioga K-bentonite (found in Virginia, West  Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York)  has several tuffaceous layers,  and  state that “The Tioga tuff ranges (in its original rock state) from coarse crystal tuffs rich in biotite and feldspars (Fig. 3) to tuffaceous shales. ... Up to 35 percent of some samples of the middle coarse zone consist of euhedral and fragmented K-feldspar and Na-rich plagioclase.”  They use isopach data and crystal size for biotite  and feldspar to speculate as to the location of the volcanic source of the Tioga tuffs.  Their map plotting the mean diameter of the coarsest feldspar in the middle coarse zone of Tioga Bentonite, Appalachian Basin, has feldspars ranging from .1mm to 1 mm.
 I expect that everyone will hypothesize that the rock I found resulted from a very large volcanic eruption from a volcanic island arc along the east coast of Laurentia during the Taconic orogeny, by a volcano that blasted the volcanic ash and phenocrysts high into the atmosphere.  What is truly interesting is that the dimensions of the phenocrysts in the volcanic rock that I found  rival and exceed the size of phenocrysts in many ash flow tuffs (e.g., Barth et al., 2012, report anhedral feldspar crystals up to 3 mm in long dimension in an ash flow tuff).

In my January 7, 2018 blog posting I mentioned that the Ontario Geological Survey (“OGS”) had released the Summary of Field Work and Other Activities, 2017 (Open File Report 6333), in which Catherine Béland Otis reported on her project ‘Paleozoic Mapping of Eastern Ontario’ . She mentioned  that she had been looking at ages determined from zircons found in bentonite beds in Eastern Ontario and hoped to correlate strata in Eastern Ontario with adjacent jurisdictions, and that “The bentonite beds  represent Late Ordovician volcanic ash deposits from a volcanic arc, now disappeared, located hundreds of kilometres to the east.”   I thought at that time that the altered volcanic ash (K-bentonite beds) would  be an interesting blog posting.  I’d like to be able to say that through hard work I located the bed that I’m reporting on.  The reality is that on Friday I went out looking for a pegmatite occurrence that I’d visited in the seventies, didn’t find it, dropped in on a friend, and still had time to kill, so I went looking for fossils and noticed the rocks that I’m now reporting on.

The rocks where I collected  have been mapped by the OGS as one formation but at least two formations or two members of one formation are present.

Christopher Brett
Ottawa, Ontario

References and Suggested Reading

Adhya, Soumava,  2009
Geochemical fingerprinting of volcanic airfall deposits: A tool in stratigraphic correlation.
Ph.D. Thesis and Dissertation. Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York.  532 pages.

Al-Delami, M. And Dix, G.R., 2009   
Distal Limits and Composition of a Late Ordovician (Mohawkian) Biotite-Bearing Volcanic ash, Foreland Carbonate Platform (Verulam Formation), Ottawa Embayment: Helping to Define Magmatic Change in Volcanism Following Later Platform Foundering.  American Geophysical Union, Spring Meeting 2009, abstract id. V31B-10

Allen, V.T. , 1929
Altered tuffs in the Ordovician of Minnesota. Journal of Geology,  37, 239–248.
Allen, V.T. , 1932
Ordovician Altered Volcanic Material in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri.  The Journal of Geology 40, no. 3 (Apr. - May, 1932): 259-269.
https://doi.org/10.1086/623945    https://www.jstor.org/stable/30057999

Anonymous, 2019
Deicke and Millbrig bentonite layers - Wikipedia.

Armstrong, D.K., 2000
Paleozoic Geology of the Northern Lake Simcoe Area, South-Central Ontario. Ontario Geological Survey Open File Report 6011, at pages 18 and 23

Barth, A.P.; A.D.G. Feilen; S.L. Yager; S.R. Douglas; J.L. Wooden; N.R. Riggs; J.D. Walker
Petrogenetic connections between ash-flow tuffs and a granodioritic to granitic intrusive suite in the Sierra Nevada arc, California .  Geosphere (2012) 8 (2): 250-264.

Brett, Carlton,  McLaughlin, P. , Cornell, S., and Baird, G. 2004
Comparative sequence stratigraphy of two classic Upper Ordovician successions, Trenton Shelf (New York–Ontario) and Lexington Platform (Kentucky–Ohio): implications for eustasy and local tectonism in eastern Laurentia. Palaeo:  Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 210, pages 295- 329; K-bentonites at 306-308

Brun J., 1974
Etude Petrograpique des formations du Black River et du Trenton du Quebec.
Ministere de Rechesses Naturelles Service des gites Mineraux. 24 pages

Brun, J.  and Chagnon, A., 1979
Rock Stratigraphy and clay mineralogy of volcanic ash beds from the Black River and Trenton Groups (middle Ordovician) of southern Quebec.  Can. Journal of Earth Sciences, vol 16, 1499–1507

Carey, Adam, Samson, Scott D.,  and Bryan Sell, 2009
Utility and Limitations of Apatite Phenocryst Chemistry for Continent-Scale Correlation of Ordovician K-Bentonites.  The Journal of Geology, Vol. 117, No. 1 (January 2009), pp. 1-14

Cornell, Sean R., 2001
 Sequence Stratigraphy and Event Correlations of Upper Black River and Lower Trenton Carbonates of Northern New York State and Southern Ontario, Canada.  Thesis, Master of Science, University of Cincinnati

Delano, J. W.,  Schirnick, C., Bock, B.,  W. S. F. Kidd, M. T. Heizler, G. W. Putman, S. E. De Long, M. Ohr, 1990
Petrology and Geochemistry of Ordovician K-Bentonites in New York State: Constraints on the Nature of a Volcanic Arc.  The Journal of Geology, Vol. 98, No. 2 (Mar., 1990), pp. 157-170

Dennison , J. M. And Textoris, D. A, 1978
Tioga Bentonite Time-Marker Associated with Devonian shales in Appalachian Basin.  166-182
in  Proceedings First Eastern Gas Shales Symposium, October 17-19, 1977, Lakeview Inn and Country Club, Morgantown, West Virginia. Department of Energy, Technical Information Center, 1978 ,  783 pages

Dix, George R. And Jolicoeur, C. , 2011
Tectonostratigraphic framework of Upper Ordovician source rocks, Ottawa Embayment (eastern Ontario).  Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology, Vol. 59, No. 1 (March, 2011), P. 7–26

Fyon, Andy, 2019
Marmora Ash Beds — Ontario Beneath Our Feet
downloaded July 27, 2019
Haynes, John T., 1989
The Mineralogy And Stratigraphic Setting Of The Rocklandian (Upper Ordovician) Deicke And Millbrig K Bentonite Beds Along The Cincinnati Arch And In The Southern Valley And Ridge.
Ph.D. thesis,   University of Cincinnati

Haynes, John T., 1994
The Ordovician Deicke and Millbrig K-Bentonite Beds of the Cincinnati Arch and the Southern Valley and Ridge Province. Geological Society of America Special Paper Volume 290   
Doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/SPE290-p1

Hewett, D. F., 1917
The origin of bentonite and the geologic range of related materials in Bighorn basin, Wyoming.  Journal Washington Academy Sciences, vol. VII, pp 196-198

Huff, Warren, 2016   
K-bentonites: A review.  American Mineralogist, Volume 101(1), pages 43-70  

Huff, W., Kolata, D.R., Bergstrom, S. M. And Zhang, Y-S., 1996
Large-magnitude Middle Ordovician volcanic ash falls in North America and Europe: dimensions, emplacement and post-emplacement characteristics. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, volume 73, 285-301

Kay, G.M., 1929,
Stratigraphy of the Decorah Formation, Journal of Geology, vol. 37, 639-671,
Kay, G. M., 1930
Age of the Hounsfield Metabentonite, Science, vol. 72, 365

Kay, G.M., 1931
Stratigraphy of the Ordovician Hounsfield Metabentonite, Journal of Geology, vol. , p. 361-376.

Kay, G.M.,  1935
Distribution of Ordovician altered volcanic materials and related clays. Geological Society of America Bulletin 46: 225-244     doi:10.1130/GSAB-46-195

Kierman, Jeffrey P., 1999
Lithography, Sedimentology and Diagenesis of the Upper Ordovician Hull Beds and Verulam Formation, Upper Ottawa Group, Eastern Ontario. Thesis, Master of Science, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University.   262 pages.   MQ43360.pdf

Kolata, Dennis R.,  Huff,  Warren D.  and  Bergstrom, Stig M., 1996
Ordovician K-bentonites of eastern North America.  Geological Society of America, Special Paper 313

Liberty, B.A., 1969
Paleozoic geology of the Lake Simcoe area, Ontario. Geological Survey of Canada Memoir 355,  215  pages. https://doi.org/10.4095/102319

Lounsbury , Richard W. and Melhorn Wilton N., 1963
Clay mineralogy of Paleozoic k-bentonites of the Eastern United States (part 1). Twelfth national conference on clays and clay minerals, 557-565
 “Ross (1928) proposed the term metabentonite for these altered volcanic ash deposits. Since, as Weaver (1953) points out, these materials are frequently not metamorphosed, they are not metabentonites.   He suggests use of the term  K-bentonite for these deposits.”

Maddox, D.C., 1930
Bentonite in the Ordovician near Collingwood, Ontario. Science, Vol. 72, Issue 1877, pp. 630
DOI:     10.1126/science.72.1877.630

 Mitchell CE, Adhya S, Bergström SM, Joy MP, Delano JW.,  2004.
 Discovery of the Ordovician Millbrig K-bentonite bed in the Trenton Group of New York State: implications for regional correlation and sequence stratigraphy in eastern North America. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 210: 331-346
[Only Abstract looked at]

Orr, John Barrie Bain, 1959   
Ordovician Bentonites from Ontario.  Thesis, Master of Science, The University of Alberta. 86 pages

Oruche, Nkechi E.,  Dix, George R. And  Sandra L. Kamob, 2018
Lithostratigraphy of the upper Turinian – lower Chatfieldian (Upper Ordovician) foreland succession, and a U–Pb ID–TIMS date for the Millbrig volcanic ash bed in the Ottawa Embayment. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 2018, 55(9): 1079-1102,
[Only Abstract looked at]

Ross, C.S., 1927
Altered Paleozoic Volcanic Materials and Their Recognition., Bulletin American Association  Petroleum Geologists, Vol. XII, p. 149-164

Salad Hcrsi , Osman , 1998
 Stratigraphic revision of the Upper Chazyan to Trentonian succession, and sedimentologic and diagenetic aspects of the Blackriveran strata Ottawa Embayment, Ontario, Canada. Unpub. PhD. thesis Carleton  University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 370 pp.

Samson, Scott, 1996
40Ar/39Ar and Nd-Sr isotopic characteristics of mid-Ordovician North American K-Bentonites: A test of early Paleozoic Laurentia-Gondwana interactions. Advanced Earth and Space Science.

Sharma, S., Dix, G.R.  and M. Villeneuve, 2005a
Petrology and potential tectonic significance of a K-bentonite in a Taconian shale basin (eastern Ontario, Canada), northern Appalachians: Geological Magazine, v. 142, p. 145-158.
DOI: 10.1017/S001675680400041X

Sharma , S.,  Dix. G.R., Coniglio, M.,  Achab, A. , and Riva, J. F. V., 2005b
Records of Punctuated Tectonism in Platform-Interior Graben Systems (Ontario, Canada) Far-Flung from Contemporaneous Taconic Orogenesis in the Northern Appalachians.
Poster presentation at AAPG Annual Convention, Calgary, Alberta, June 19-22, 2005. http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/2005/sharma/index.htm

Suarez, S. E.; Brookfield, M. E.; Catlos, E. J.; Stockli, D. F.; Batchelor, R. A., 2016
Precise U/Pb zircons dates of bentonites in Upper Ordovician and Lower Silurian.  American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2016, abstract #V11A-2761
 3 precise U-Pb zircon ages from the Trenton Group, Ontario, Canada,   The youngest age from the top of the Kirkfield Formation in Ontario is 448.0 +/- 18 Ma, which fits with existing late Ordovician stratigraphic ages

Tweet, Justin, 2016
(former) Ash beds in St. Paul
Equatorial Minnesota: Minnesota paleontology and geology, National Park Service paleontology, the Mesozoic, and occasional distractions.   Posted Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ver Straeten, C.,  Baird, G. C.,  Karabinos, P., Samson, S. D., and Brett, Carlton E.,  2012
Silicic Appalachian Magmatism During the Ordovician and Devonian: Perspectives from the Foreland Basin, and the Hinterland.   In New York State Geological Association, 84th Annual Meeting Guidebook, Publisher: New York State Geological Association, Editors: Todd W. Rayne, pp. A7-1 to A7-59

Wentworth, Chester K. And Williams, Howel, 1932
The Classification and Terminology of the Pyroclastic Rocks, pages 19-53,  in Report of the Committee on Sedimentation, 1930-1932, Bulletin of the National Research Council, No. 89,  National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Dr. Arthur Wade’s (1924) Contribution to the Discovery of Precambrian Fossils in Australia

"Our most interesting find consisted of a variety of fossil remains in these siliceous flags and shales. These consisted of the tracks of forms of life unknown to us — Worm tracks, long stem-like structures sometimes in great profusion, and other more complex and more obscure forms."
Dr. Arthur Wade, 1924

Basic Premise of This Paper

The premise of this posting is that Dr. Arthur Wade made a significant contribution to the discovery of Prccambrian fossils in Australia and that his contribution has been overlooked by many currently working on Ediacaran fossils.   The following points are worth noting.

- Dr. Arthur Wade (1924) considered the structures  that he figured in his Plates VII, VIII, VIII, X  to be fossils from the “Lower Cambrian (Proterozoic?) Flags.”   At least two of those photographs are of Precambrian fossils:  Protoniobia and  Horodyskia.

- Protoniobia is considered a Proterozoic fossil.  Accordingly, Dr. Arthur Wade was the first to publish photographs of Australian Proterozoic  fossils.   Dr. Arthur Wade did this in 1924, over two decades before Sprigg’s (1947) publication ‘Early Cambrian Jellyfish from the Flinders Range’ and Sprigg’s (1950) publication ‘Early Cambrian  'Jellyfishes' of Ediacara South  Australia and Mount John, Kimberley District, Western Australia.’

- Dr. Arthur Wade was the first person in Australia to use Precambrian  fossils as an aid in mapping.

- While Dr. Arthur Wade tentatively assigned his fossils  to the Lower Cambrian  he commented a number of times that they might be Proterozoic.   In an article written in 1928 Sir T. W. Edgeworth David recognized and publicized that Dr. Arthur Wade had found Proterozoic fossils.  Sir T. W. Edgeworth David’s (1928) publication is referenced in Sprigg (1947) and, for example, Glaessner (1959) and Wilson (1957).

 - One of the fossils that had been shown in a plate in Dr. Wade’s publication was figured in Sprigg’s (1950) publication and named  Protoniobia  wadea, Sprigg.   The Holotype was collected by Dr. Arthur Wade.

- Another of Dr. Arthur Wade’s (1924) fossils  was likely the first photograph of Horodyskia, a Precambrian fossil found in rocks dating from the Mesoproterozoic (possibly to the Ediacaran).   The literature reports that the structures were first described by Horodyski (1982) from the  Mesoproterozoic Belt Supergroup,  Montana, who thought them likely nonbiogenic, possibly representing a repetitive tool mark, but possibly biogenic.  They  was subsequently reported in Western Australia by Grey and Williams (1990).  They were named Horodyskia moniliformis by Yochelson and Fedonkin ( 2000).   Dr. Wade (1924)  should be credited as the first to report  the fossil as his photographs appeared fifty-eight years prior to Horodyski (1982).

- Most writers, including Sprigg (1950),  incorrectly assigned  Dr. Wade’s specimen of Protoniobia to the Cambrian.  A few now assign it to the Ediacaran.  Glaessner and Walter (1981) assigned it to rocks much  older than the Ediacaran. 

- Dr. Arthur Wade or F. Chapman ( 1925), describe Dr. Wade’s fossil that Sprigg later named Protoniobia  wadea  as “A probable impress of a coiled (?) gephyrean or unsegmented  worm”.   Sprigg (1950)  believed it to be “the impression of a medusa”.   Harrington & Moore (1956) rejected  both  interpretations:  "Here interpreted as a concretion, inorganic."  Öpik (1957a) and Noakes (1957) both considered it a jellyfish, relying on Sprigg.  Williams (1967) commented that the organic origin of the jellyfish discovered by Wade (1924) and named by Sprigg (1949) “is doubtful (Dow & Gemuts, in prep.).”   Cloud (1968) thought it inorganic.  Dow and Gemuts (1969) commented “there  is  some  doubt  that  Wade's  jellyfish is of organic  origin.”  Glaessner and Walter (1981, page 388) commented that it was “an abiogenic concretion”.  Strusz (1992), interpreted it as “a concretion, inorganic.”     Hoffman (1992) included it in his list of megascopic dubiofossils and pseudofossils.  McCall (2006) stated that it was “clearly a body fossil and resembles Ediacaran medusoids.”   Fedonkin et al. (2007) suggested it was “Possibly a cnidarian.” Lan and Chen (2012) commented “ These fossils are also highly questionable.”  Menon (2015) characterized it as one of many  “Probable junior synonyms of Cyclomedusa davidi Sprigg 1947,” and interpreted  it as the “Possible upper surface of holdfast”.  The characterization of the specimen by Dr. Arthur Wade as a ‘fossil’ and by Dr. Arthur Wade  or F. Chapman (1925) as “A  probable  impress  of  a  coiled (?)  gephyrean  or  unsegmented   worm”  is more accurate than those assigned to the specimen by many others.

Background -  Sir T. W. Edgeworth David’s 1928 Paper

When I read a new article I also read the list of references looking for articles of historical interest.   In my March 30th posting I mentioned an article by Dr. Alice E. Wilson describing  the packing and storage of the Geological Survey of Canada’s Aspidella specimens.  Dr. Wilson referenced an interesting article by Sir T. W. Edgeworth David (1928), an Australian geologist and Antarctic explorer, in which he summarized articles on Precambrian fossils, and mentioned:

“Dr. Arthur Wade  records the occurrence of markings with tracks and trails apparently of organic origin in the Lower Cambrian or Proterozoic rocks (probably the latter. — T. W. E. D.) of (1 ) Mount John, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia ; (2) in the Victoria River area of North Australia ; (3) at Elcho Island and in the Cape Wilberforce district, on the north-west side of the Gulf of  Carpentaria. Speaking of these Wade says : "Our most interesting find consisted of a variety of fossil remains in these (Mount John.— T. W. E. D.) siliceous flags and shales. These consisted of the tracks of forms of life unknown  to us — Worm tracks, long stem-like structures sometimes in great profusion, and other more complex and more obscure forms." Wade found these markings of  value for purposes of correlation.”

Dr. Arthur Wade’s 1924 Publication

That remark by Sir Edgeworth David, in an article published in 1928,  that in Proterozoic rocks of Australia  Dr. Arthur Wade had found “Worm tracks, long stem-like structures sometimes in great profusion, and other more complex and more obscure forms”  piqued my interest and after failing to find  an online version of  Dr. Arthur Wade’s publication, and failing to locate  the publication at a local library, I ordered a copy.   I have now received and read Dr. Arthur Wade’s report, which has the title “Petroleum prospects, Kimberley district of Western Australia and Northern Territory ” (not the title that one would expect from the extract  provided by Edgeworth David).   The plates in the publication are worth the cost of the publication, as at least two of the fossils that Dr. Wade identifies as “fossils” from the “Lower Cambrian (Proterozoic?)” would now be identified as the Precambrian fossils Protoniobia and  Horodyskia.

By way of background, it is worth noting that Dr. Arthur Wade was a petroleum geologist (see Vallance, 1990) and that his 1924 publication involved mapping the Kimberley District of Western Australia and the Northern Territory in a search for oil.   As part of that project he mapped the Precambrian, Cambrian and other Phanerozoic rocks of the Kimberley District, and  reported finding a Lower Cambrian series of sedimentary rocks (quartzites, sandstones, conglomerates, shales and flags)  “that may well pass downward into the Pre-Cambrian”, a point that he emphasized a number of times in the publication.    For example, in his chart of the formations and thickness, Dr. Wade gives the age (at page 10) as “Lower (may pass down into Proterozoic or Precambrian)” for his Albert River Series which includes “Gray and green silicious shales, flags and flaggy grits of Mt. John (W.A.), also of Victoria River, Elcho Island, Cape Wilberforce, and the Rover River (N.T.)... 500 feet.” .   When describing the Fitzroy Area Dr. Wade  mentions (at page 14) “We have, therefore, called them the Lower Cambrian series, though they may pass downward into the Pre-Cambrian.    When describing the Ord River Areas Dr. Wade  mentions (at page 25) “The beds are part of what we have called the Lower Cambrian sedimentary series, and may be older. ... This wall is the scarp face of the basal beds of the Cambrian, or, may be, Proterozoic series, and can be traced...” .   When describing his Geologic Map, Dr. Wade commented (at page 39)  “Again we feel certain that the beds mapped and described as lower Cambrian go down to and include Pre-Cambrian sediments with apparent conformity, and these have all been shown under one colour.”

Here is a longer version of the part quoted by Sir Edgeworth David, and is Dr.  Arthur Wade’s description of the Mt. John area (page 30):

“ The Lower Cambrian (or, may be, Proterozoic) series has a far greater extension to the W. at this point than is shown on any of the maps...   Our most interesting find consisted of a variety of fossil remains in these siliceous flags and shales. These consisted of the tracks of forms of life unknown  to us — Worm tracks, long stem-like structures sometimes in great profusion, and other more complex and more obscure forms.  These very ancient life forms proved to be very valuable find so far as we were concerned, since we found identical forms in similar beds later in the Victoria River area just over the border in Western Australia and in the Northern Territory, and as far as Elcho Island and the Cape Wilberforc district on the W. Side of the Gulf of Carpentaria, thus enabling us to correlate the strata..”

At least two of “the ancient life forms” that Dr. Arthur Wade relied on that are shown in Dr. Arthur Wade’s plates would now be recognized as Proterozoic fossils, and I find it interesting that Dr. Arthur Wade in Australia, like Alexander Murray in Newfoundland (who used the Huronian  fossil Aspidella as an aid in mapping), was able to use Precambrian fossils as an aid in mapping.

Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plates

Dr. Arthur Wade includes six plates of which he identified as fossils from the Lower Cambrian:
- Plates VII, VIII, IX and X –  “Lower Cambrian Fossils (undetermined) .  Lower Cambrian (Proterozoic?) Flags, Mt. John, Osmond Range, Western Australia” ,
- Plate XI with “Lower Cambrian Fossils (undetermined) Auvergne Station, N.T.” and
- Plate XII “Lower Cambrian Fossils  (undetermined).  In Lower Cambrian Quartzite, Elcho Island, N.T.”

Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plate IX 

The fossil in Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plate IX is the one of most interest.   It is reproduced below.

When looking at the photograph it is important to note that Dr. Wade (1924)  states that the photograph shows the specimen in its natural size.  The large disc (as measured on the photo in Dr. Wade’s publication) has a diameter of 6 cm ( 2  1/4 inches), not the  4.1 mm that is reported in a number of publications (Sprigg (1950);  McCall (2006),  Fedonkin et al. (2007)).  [Inserted July 25, 2019:]  Natalie Schroeder, the Collection Manager for the Commonwealth Palaeontological Collection, at Geoscience Australia has  told me  "the specimen measures 41 mm in diameter, not 4.1 mm!”

A separate  publication  (herein, Chapman, 1925), describes  the plates and other specimens collected by Dr. Arthur Wade and describes the fossil in Plate IX as “A  probable  impress  of  a  coiled (?) gephyrean or unsegmented  worm, lying on the bedded surface of a laminated  sandstone.  Lower Cambrian Flags. Mount  John,  Osmond  Range,  Western  Australia.”    The photographed specimen bears Dr. Wade’s specimen Number 275.   That separate publication is in two parts: first, a description of the plates where the author is not identified; second, a preliminary description of all of Dr. Wade’s specimens where the author is identified as M r. F. Chapman, Palaeontologist, National Museum, Melbourne.   It is not clear whether Dr. Wade was the author of the description of the plates, or whether Chapman authored both parts.

Sprigg’s (1950) Description of Dr. Arthur Wade’s Specimen - Plate IX

Sprigg (1950) in his paper ‘Early  Cambrian  'Jellyfishes' of Ediacara South Australia and Mount  John,  Kimberley  District, Western Australia’, describes Dr. Wade’s specimen at pages 77-79 of his article (including it within the Hydrozoa and placing it in the Lower Cambrian) and  figured Dr. Wade’s specimen as his Figure 1, Plate IX, with the caption:  “Fig. 1 Protoniobia  wadea, Sprigg.  Holotype No. 192, Commonwealth Palaeontological Collection, Canberra, F.C.T. Specimen collected by Dr. A. L. Wade from Lower Cambrian flags, Mount John Osmond Range, Western Australia. The impression occurs on the bedded surface of laminated sandstone.”

Sprigg (1950) provides the following measurements:  “Dimension — Maximum diameter of the bell 4.1 mm.; average diameter of (?) gonadial nodes 2.5 mm.; maximum diameter of largest "bud" 1.4 mm.”    As noted above, Sprigg’s measurements do not agree with Dr. Wade’s photograph of the specimen that is supposed to be of natural size.  The most likely explanation is typographical error:  Sprigg’s dimensions should be in centimeters not millimeters. [Inserted July 25, 2019:]  Natalie Schroeder, the Collection Manager for the Commonwealth Palaeontological Collection, at Geoscience Australia has  told me “you are absolutely right ... – the specimen measures 41 mm in diameter, not 4.1 mm!”

Sprigg (1950) concluded that “The specimen is the impression of a medusa.”

Nearby Locations - Similar Fossils

Others have searched for specimens of  Dr. Arthur Wade’s ‘jellyfish’ with mixed results.   While  Noakes (1957) commented “at Mt. John, Wade (1924) discovered fossils which were eventually established as  fossil jellyfish by Sprigg in 1949. Again, search over many years has produced no other fossils in these rocks” , Traves (1957) commented on Upper  Proterozoic  rocks  in  the  Kimberley  plateau noting that “Along  the  banks  of  the  Ord  River  near  Carlton  Crossing  stromatolitic  structures  and  possible  jelly-fish  marks  were  examined  by  Dr.  Öpik  and  the  writer.  A  number  of  undetermined  fossils  of  a similar  nature  are  illustrated  in  Wade's  report  (1924)  as  occurring  at  Mt.  John,  Osmond  Range,  W.  A.”     

Dow and Gemuts (1969) reported finding specimens similar to Dr. Wade’s at a nearby location, commenting (1969, at pages 79-80)  “It  was  from  the  lower  unit  that  Wade  (1924)  collected  the  supposed  jellyfish named  by  Sprigg  (1949)    Protoniobia   wadea.  Wade  thought  the  sandstone  was  Lower   Cambrian,   and   Sprigg  correlated   the   beds   with   the  basal   Cambrian   of   Ediacara  in  South  Australia,  but  they  are  of  course  much  older.    We  could  not  find  Wade's  locality,  but  in  Wade  Creek  there  is  a  platform   on  which   are   exposed   hundreds   of  small  chert  plates  consisting   of   a  number   of  concentric  rings,  very similar  to  Wade's  supposed  jellyfish.     Many   of  these  are  single  plates,  between  half  an  inch  and  2  inches  across,  but  a  large  proportion  consists  of  two  to  three  individuals  of  various  sizes  fused  together.    In  some  cases,  small  nodules  are  fused  to  the  margin   of  a  larger  one,  giving  the  appearance   of  the  budding  appendages  described  by  Sprigg.    Under  these  circumstances  there  is  some  doubt  that  Wade's  jellyfish  is  of  organic  origin,  a  doubt  previously  expressed  by  Harrington  & Moore  (Moore,  1956).”

Mount Brooking is 80 miles north of Mount John.  Dunnet (1965) reported on an occurrence of Proterozoic "jellyfish" from Mount Brooking,  Kimberley Region, Western Australia, but commented “They bear no resemblance to the Forms found by Wade (1924) and described by  Sprigg (1949) from rocks lower in the sequence near Mount John 80 miles SSW of Mount Brooking.”   Grey (1981a,b) examined additional specimens of “ ‘jellyfish’ or ‘medusoids’ ” from the Mount Brooking area, concluding that they were inorganic.

Age of the Mount John Shale Member and the Wade Creek Sandstone

There is a bit of uncertainty as to the age of the rocks where Dr. Arthur Wade collected the specimen now  known as Protoniobia, if like me you want to believe that Protoniobia is Ediacaran.

Dr. Arthur Wade stated that the specimen in Plate IX was found in the flags at Mt. John, Osmond Range, Western Australia.   Sprigg (1950) stated that “The impression occurs on the bedded surface of laminated sandstone.”   Dow and Gemuts (1969) stated that Wade’s specimen “was from the lower part of the Wade Creek Sandstone.”  Glaessner and Walter (1981)  commented that  Protoniobia wadea Sprigg was “from the Mount John Shale Member of the Wade Sandstone.”   As the Mount John Shale Member is part of the Wade Creek Formation, the age of either one is the age of Dr. Wade’s specimen.

Consider the following. 
- Dr. Arthur Wade assigned it to the Lower Cambrian, possibly the Proterozoic.

- Sprigg (1950) assigned it to the Lower Cambrian.  Sprigg (1950)  reported that a second example of Protoniobia  has been discovered amongst material from  Ediacara, South Australia,  that the fossil was slightly smaller, with evidence of four daughter buds, and that “Its discovery supports the view that the Kimberley fossil was approximately contemporaneous with the Ediacara suite.”  Seven years later Glaessner and Daily (1957) comment that the small specimen “is not a Protoniobia but represents the new form described below as Tribrachidium heraldicum.”
- Öpik (1957a, 1957b) assigned the beds to the  "Eocambrian."  (Wikipedia: Eocambrian ... referring to the latest (youngest) portion of time in the Precambrian Eon or to the uppermost Precambrian sediments which were continuously deposited across the Precambrian-Cambrian time boundary.)

- Vivian Bofinger (1967) submitted  a doctoral thesis entitled Geochronology in the East Kimberley Area of Western Australia in which she determined the age of  the Mt. John Shale Member of the Wade Creek Sandstone.  She reported that the results of the Rb-Sr isotope dilution analyses gave an indicated age of 1128 + 110 m.y.

- Dow and Gemuts (1969) mapped the Kimberley Region of  Western Australia and designated one unit  the Wade Creek Sandstone, with the contained Mount John Shale Member.   They commented that “It was from the lower part of the Wade Creek Sandstone that Wade (1924) found an impression thought to be fossil jellyfish, which was named Protoniobia wadea by Sprigg (1949).”   They also noted that the “Mount John Shale has been isotopically dated by the Rb/Sr method as 1,128 ± 110 m.y.”

- Glaessner and Walter (1981, page 388)  commented that “The supposed medusoid Protoniobia wadea Sprigg is an abiogenic concretion from the Mount John Shale Member of the Wade Sandstone of northwestern Australia which is 1125 +- 110 Ma old (Plumb and Derrick, 1975). ”  

- McCall (2006) commented that  Protoniobia wadea “is clearly a body fossil and resembles Ediacaran medusoids. The Kimberleys is a vast region and exposes great expanse of Proterozoic to lower Palaeozoic rocks. . ..  Although Sprigg recorded this occurrence as Cambrian, the age of the Mount John Shale Member as given  by Grey and Griffin (1990) is 1128 Ma (±110 Ma) citing Dow and Gemuts (1969). This would not equate with the age of the Pound Quartzite of the Ediacara type area, being much older than the Vendian. However, age dating evidence in the Kimberleys is somewhat meager.”  

- Lan and Chen (2010) comment that “the Mount John Shale Member is stratigraphically below the Eliot Range Dolomite which was assigned to the early to middle Neoproterozoic in age by stromatolite biostratigraphic correlation (Grey and Blake, 1999). The Mount John Shale Member therefore is not younger than early Neoproterozoic in age.”

- Grey and Blake (1999) include a stratigraphic column where they  assign the Wade Creek Formation and the Mount John Shale to the Mesoproterozoic with an age of about 1200 Ma.   They note that “The Bungle Bungle Dolomite is overlain  unconformably by the Wade Creek Sandstone,which is separated from the overlying Duerdin Group by the Ahern Formation and the Helicopter Siltstone (Tyler et al. 1997).

- Both Tyler et al. (1997), a 1:100 000 geological map (sheet 4563) , and Tyler et al. (1998), 1:250000 geological map (sheet SE 52-6), include stratigraphic columns which include the rocks at Mount John and the Osmond Range.    They place the  Wade Creek Formation and the Mount John Shale in the Proterozoic below the Ahern Formation and the Helicopter Siltstone to which they assign an (uncertain) age of “c.?800Ma.”    They do not assign an age to the underlying Wade Creek Formation and the Mount John Shale.

- Tyler, Hocking and Haines ( 2012) state that “The Glidden Group and Wade Creek Sandstone have been correlated with the Carr Boyd Group (Tyler, 2000; Blake et al., 2000).” and that “Deposition of the Carr Boyd Group probably took place in a deltaic to shallow-marine setting at c. 1200 Ma, the age of intrusion of the Argyle lamproite diatreme into wet sediments (Thorne and Tyler, 1996; Jaques et al., 1986; Pidgeon et al., 1989).” 

- The Australian Government’s online ‘Australian Stratigraphic Units Database’ gives the formation a “Maximum age: Mesoproterozoic, Ma: 1128 +/- 110".   

It is not clear to me that Bofinger’s (1967) analysis of the Mt. John Shale Member of the Wade Creek Sandstone would have given the age of the shale or the age of the source for the sediment in the shale.  However, Nebel (2014) commented that “The Rb–Sr dating technique is among the most widely used and most powerful dating tools available in Earth sciences. It is an effective means of dating igneous rocks or metamorphic events and, under special circumstances, can be applied to sedimentary sequences, ...”

Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plate X  - Horodyskia

Below I have reproduced Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plate X

Dr. Arthur Wade (1924) identified it as a fossil with the following description of the plate: “Plates VII, VIII, IX and X –  “Lower Cambrian Fossils (undetermined) .  Lower Cambrian (Proterozoic?) Flags, Mt. John, Osmond Range, Western Australia.  VII, IX and X, nat. size; VIII, 1/2 size.”

Here is the  description of Plate X from the first part of the separate publication (Fletcher, 1925): “Plate X.  A fine-grained  shore-line  sandstone, showing  probable tracks of a (?) crustacean.    Lower  Cambrian  Flags.    Mount   John,  Osmond   Range, Western  Australia.”

The specimen shows two diverging lines of small circles that look like isolated strings of beads.
An identical, or nearly identical structure, from Precambrian rocks  has been identified as the  fossil  Horodyskia.   The literature on  Horodyskia invariably reports that the structures were first described from the  Mesoproterozoic Belt Supergroup,  Montana, by Horodyski (1982)  who thought them likely  nonbiogenic, possibly representing a repetitive tool mark, but possibly biogenic.  They  was subsequently reported in Western Australia by Grey and Williams (1990).  They were named Horodyskia moniliformis by Yochelson and Fedonkin ( 2000).

The fossil shown in Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plate X is essentially the same as the fossil shown in Fedonkin’s (2003) Figures 1 [Middle Proterozoic, Montana] and 2 [Middle Proterozoic, Western Australia] .     The specimen featured in Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plate X is also nearly identical to structures on the slabs from Western Australia featured in Figures 2 and 5 of  Grey and Williams (1990).    Grey and Williams (1990) do not cite Dr. Arthur Wade’s publication, but Grey et al. (2009) do, commenting “Structures from the late Precambrian or early Cambrian near Mount John, east Kimberly region, appear similar to Horodyskia and require further investigation (Wade, 1924, p. 47, Plate X).”

It is important to note that Dr. Arthur Wade (1924)  identified Plate X as a fossil and that it was described in Fletcher (1925).   If Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plate X is Horodyskia, then he ought to be credited as the first to figure and describe the fossil.

Horodyskia has also been reported from  Ediacaran age rocks (e.g., Dong et al. (2008) reported  Horodyskia  from the Ediacaran rocks in South China.) .  However, in Calvera et al.’s (2010)  report of Horodyskia  in the mid-Proterozoic of Tasmania  they question the Ediacaran finds commenting that they discount “ the Ediacaran occurrences of Mathur and Srivastava (2004), Shen et al. (2007) and Dong et al. (2008),whose assignation to Horodyskia we find doubtful.”   If Horodyskia is found in rocks dating from the Mesoproterozoic  to the Ediacaran it has  a  800 Ma range. 

If Horodyskia is found only  in rocks dating from the Mesoproterozoic, then this agrees with the age 1128 + 110 m.y. that  Dr. Vivian Bofinger (1967) assigned to the  Mt. John Shale Member of the Wade Creek Sandstone.

Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plates VII, VIII and XI

Below I have reproduced Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plates VII, VIII and XI with their descriptions in the first part of the separate publication.

Plate VII.  Curious surface markings, usually ascribed to trails of seaweed,  and  tracks of  crustacea.   The straight linear bodies may indicate sponge remains—a  strange  association.     Lower Cambrian Flags.  Mount John, Osmond Range, Western  Australia.

Plate VIII. A slab of shore-line sediment, similar to the preceding: with probable crustacean tracks and long (?) spicular bodies.    Lower Cambrian Flags. Mount John, Osmond Range,  Western Australia

Plate XI.  Problematic fossils,  including  tracks  and  trails.    Also  thick  spicular-like bodies  of  doubtful  origin.    Auvergna  Station,  Northern  Territory.  Lower Cambrian  Flags.

The specimen shown in Plate VII bears Dr. Wade’s specimen Number 267.  Later in the separate publication Chapman added the note  “267 . . (?) Trail of a seaweed and tracks of a (?) crustacean. Also tracks of Protichnites sp.  Also remains of crustaceans (?) (phyllocarids).” .    The specimen shown in Plate VIII  bears Dr. Wade’s specimen Number 266.  Later in the separate publication Chapman added the note “266 . . A large slab, circ . 32 x 28 cm. of a fine sandy shoreline sediment  (finely stratified), with numerous casts (negative) of linear tracks, presumably of crustaceous origin.”

It is not clear to me how to classify all of the features shown in Dr. Wade’s  three Plates VII, VIII, and XI .  Öpik (1957b) suggested ice-crystal casts.  Sweet (1977) suggested skip and prod casts caused by current scour.   A few of the textures look like discoidal bumps and pits that have been classed as biogenetic on some Ediacaran slabs (e.g.,  Beltanelliformis m. and b.), some of the linear features resemble  microbially induced sedimentary structures, and some features (particularly on Plate VII) resemble various Edicaran tube fossils or odd Ediacaran fossils that are a series of rods or lobes.

 Öpik (1957b) commented that he had “observed ice-crystal casts in the sediments of the Upper (or Middle?)  Precambrian Warramunga Group at the Skipper Extended Mine at Tennant Creek, and Wade (1924, pl VII, VIII, and XI) illustrated similar forms as Lower Cambrian fossils (undetermined) from Mt. John, Osmond Range, Western Australia.”    While at least one other person  has written about and figured supposed fossil ice crystal casts (Udden, 1918),   Öpik’s  suggestion of  “ice-crystal casts”  doesn’t appear apt, particularly for Plates VII and XI.

Sweet (1977) commented that  Wade’s  (1924) “supposed trace fossils ...  have not been proved to be organic markings” and that he had observed  similar markings in much older rocks which “are best described as skip and prod casts because they are preserved in coarse siltstone and fine sandstone beds overlying the fine siltstone or shale beds. It is probable that they were caused by current scour of mud laminae.”   Sweet’s figured specimen looks like features in Wade’s plates VII, VIII, and XI.   Further, Wade’s plates VII, VIII, and XI show features that are similar to turbidite skip and prod casts in Plate II in Spotts And Weber (1964 ).

Would all of the structures on Plates VII, VIII, and XI be classed as skip and prod casts, or are some microbially induced sedimentary structures or biogenic fossils?    Dr. Arthur Wade’s specimens would be worth a closer look by a Paleontologist.

Dr. Arthur Wade’s Plate XII 

Chapman (1925): Plate XII.  Lower Cambrian Quartzite  (current-bedded).  Probably  of shallow water origin.    With deep  imprints,  probably made by grovelling crustacea (trilobites).  Elcho Island, Northern Territory.

[Both Cloud (1959, page 940) and Fortey (2010) describe ‘grovelling’ trilobites.]   This specimen looks Cambrian.

A List of Dr. Wade’s Specimens

Chapman (1925) provides a Preliminary Report on the over three hundred numbered specimens collected by Dr. Arthur Wade, including fifteen  that are identified as “Lower Cambrian or even Algonkian”.  The specimens numbered 266,  267,  275 and 337 are shown in Plates VIII, VII, IX and  XII.   It is not clear which specimens are shown in Plate X (Mt. John)  and XI (Auvergne Station) .

I believe that all of the following specimens merit re-examination.   Below I provide Chapman's (1925) description.

Nos. in Wade
Locality . — Flora Valley .
Age.— Lower Cambrian or even Algonkian.
247 . . Missing .
248 . . Trail of  polychaete .

Locality . — Osmond Range, Mount John, Kimberley .
Age.— Palaeozoic . Lower Cambrian or even Algonkian.
266 . . A large slab , circ. 32 x 28 cm . of  a  fine sandy shoreline sediment  (finely stratified) , with numerous casts (negative) of linear tracks, presumably of crustaceous origin .
267 . . (?) Trail of a seaweed and tracks of a (?) crustacean. Also tracks of Protichnites sp.  Also remains of crustaceans (?) (phyllocarids).
268 . . (? ) Trail of seaweed .
269 . . Tracks of organic  origin  and a vermiform impression .
270 . . (? ) Tracks of crustacean.
271 . . (? ) Tracks and castings.
272 . . Spine of a  (? ) crustacean and tracks of crustacea or  vermes.
273 . . Ripples marks in cross bedded  sandstone .
274 . . Fine grained sandstone with remains of (?) hymenocarid forms and (?) tracks. Pittings of latter in relief are monticules (negative) with radiating surfaces.
275 . . A cast of the body of a coiled  worm, (?) gephyrean, in laminated sandstone ,and lying on the bedded surface.

Locality.— Point Bristow, Elcho Island, Northern Territory.
Age .—Lower Cambrian or even Algonkian..
324 . . Fine laminated sandstone with (?) crustacean tracks.
325 . . Fine laminated ferruginous sandstone with (?) crustacean tracks.

Locality.— Cape Wilberforce, Elcho Island.
Ag e .— Lower Cambrian or even Algonkian.
330 . . Trails and tracks, (?) crustacean.

Locality.—South of Point Bristow and along coast of Elcho Island.
Age.— Lower Cambrian or even Algonkian.
337 . . Sandstone block with deep imprints, probably made by grovelling trilobites.

Those specimens would be worth examining.

References  to Dr. Arthur  Wade’s Specimens and to his Work in the Kimberley Region

Below I’ve provided a list of references plus extracts from the papers where Dr. Arthur  Wade’s specimens are referred to.  Dr. Arthur Wade’s paper on the Kimberley Region is cited in many scientific papers dealing with the formations and their structure.  I have only included the ones directly related to his Precambrian ( Ediacaran?)  fossils.

All recent papers that I have read that describe the discovery and promotion of the finding of Ediacaran fossils in Australia highlight the work of Reginald Sprigg, Mary Wade and Martin F. Glaessner and their colleagues, and overlook the work of  Dr. Arthur Wade.   I hope that this posting will bring Dr. Arthur Wade’s contributions to the attention of others.

I had been tempted to title this posting ‘Should Dr. Arthur Wade get equal Billings for the discovery of Precambrian fossils in Australia’, but thought better of it.

Christopher Brett
Ottawa, Ontario

Addendum ( July 25, 2019):  On July 24th I sent an email to the general enquiries email address for Geoscience Australia asking about the measurements of CPC 192, the specimen collected by Dr. Arthur Wade and named by Sprigg (1950) as Protoniobia wadea, Sprigg.  On July 25th  I received an email back from Natalie Schroeder, the Collection Manager for the Commonwealth Palaeontological Collection, at Geoscience Australia.  She told me “you are absolutely right, Reg Sprigg got his units of measurement wrong for CPC192 – the specimen measures 41 mm in diameter, not 4.1 mm!”

Addendum (July 23):  The photographed specimen in Plate VIII  bears Dr. Wade’s specimen Number 266.   Dr. Wade’s text accompanying the plate says it is 1/2 nat. size.  Chapman (1925) provides the following description of specimen 266:   “A large slab , circ. 32 x 28 cm ...”.    As measured in Wade’s Plate VIII the slab has dimensions 13 cm x 11 cm if measured parallel to the edges of the photo, and the dimensions 15 cm x 14 cm if measured diagonally on the specimen.  The slab in Wade’s  photo is roughly ½ the size of Chapman’s measurements, and supports my suspicion that Sprigg’s measurements for Protoniobia wadea should be in cm not mm.

References and Suggested Reading

Aitken,A.R.A. ;  S.A. Occhipinti, M.D. Lindsay, A. Joly, H.M. Howard, S.P. Johnson, J.
Hollis, C. Spaggiari, I.M. Tyler, T.C. McCuaig, M.C. M.C. Dentith, 2018
The tectonics and mineral systems of Proterozoic Western Australia: relationships
with supercontinents and global secular change. Geoscience Frontiers ,Volume 9, Issue 2, March 2018, Pages 295-316   doi: 10.1016/j.gsf.2017.05.0

Bland, B. H. 1984.
Arumberia Glaessner & Walter, a review of its potential for correlation in the region of the Precambrian - Cambrian boundary. Geol. Mag. Vol. 121. No. 6. p. 625 - 633.

Bofinger, Vivian Maxwell (1967)
Geochronology in the East Kimberley Area of Western Australia.   Thesis submitted in the Australian National University for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Calvera,Clive R., Kathleen Grey, and Martin Laan, 2010
The ‘string of beads’  fossil (Horodyskia) in the mid-Proterozoic of Tasmania.
Precambrian Research 180 (2010) 18–25

Chapman, F., 1925
The Wade Collection of Fossils – Description of Plates in report by Dr. A . Wade on the Petroleum Prospects of the Kimberley District of Western Australia and the Northern Territory,  and Preliminary Report by M r. F. Chapman, Palaeontologist, National Museum, Melbourne, on Fossils collected by Dr. A . Wade in the Kimberley District of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Melbourne: Government Printer. 10 pages
Cloud, Preston E. Jr., 1959
Paleoecology: Retrospect and Prospect, Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 33, No. 5 (Sep., 1959), pp. 926-962 

Cloud, P.E., 1968.
Pre-Metazoan evolution and the origins of the metazoa. In: Drake, E.T. (Ed.), Evolution and Environment. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, pp. 1–72.

David, Sir  T. W. Edgeworth, 1928
Notes on newly discovered fossils in the Adelaide series (Lipalian?), South Australia.  Trans. Roy. Soc. S. Australia, vol. 52, pp 191-209, plates 13-18

Dong, L., Xiao, S., Shen, B., and Zhou, C., Jan 2008
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Rejected  from  the  Coelenterata: 
Protoniobia  wadea  SPRIGG,  1949 
CPC  192: HOLOTYPE  (impression  on  bedding  plane)  - WADE,  1924, pl. IX, CHAPMAN,  1924, p.  9.    SPRIGG, 1949,  pp.  77-79,  text-fig.  2E, pi. IX,  fig.  1.    HARRINGTON  &  MOORE,  1956, p. F159, Fig.  131. 
Locality:  Mount  John,  Osmond  Range,  Kimberley  district,   Western  Australia. 
Horizon:"Lower  Cambrian  Flags". 
Age:   Early  Cambrian.  ("Lower  Cambrian  or  even  Algonkian"  -  Chapman,  1924). 
Remarks:   Originally  thought by  Chapman  to be  a  "...  coiled  (?)  gephyrean  or unsegmented  worm",  and  then  by  Sprigg  to  be  a  hydrozoan.    Harrington   &  Moore  rejected  both  interpretations   - “Here  interpreted  as a concretion, inorganic."

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