Early to Middle Ordovician cherts and cherty siltstones associated with distal turbidite deposition in back-arc basins, are widespread in the Hermidale and Albury-Bega Terranes of the Lachlan Orogen in New South Wales. Study of more than 2500 bedding plane-parallel thin sections prepared to a thickness of 50 μm from these cherts enables recognition of four conodont zones that range in age from the late Tremadocian to latest Darriwilian. Comparable cherts are present in two small remnants of oceanic derivation now exposed on the coast of New South Wales, in the Narooma Terrane (Furongian to Darriwilian), and in the New England Orogen at Port Macquarie in allochthonous blocks (Late Ordovician). Associated fauna include radiolaria, sponge spicules, lingulide and acrotretide brachiopods, fragmentary graptolites, and rare filaments attributed to cyanobacteria. Some of these organisms were pelagic, or may have been attached to floating material, and hence became entrapped in siliceous ooze on the sea floor when they settled under gravity. Others (e.g. the brachiopods) may have been attached to sponges growing on the sea floor. The presence of burrows and bioturbation demonstrates that the deep-sea environment in the Middle Ordovician was well-oxygenated, though this contrasts with Lower Ordovician environments where evidence for infauna is lacking. Predominant colouration of the cherts examined in thin section ranges from honey and yellow-brown (typical of semitransparent cherts) through cream-coloured translucent lithologies to opaque varieties. Dark brown cherty rocks that show evidence of burrowing or bioturbation tend to have a higher silt component. The Ordovician is also a time of extensive chert deposition elsewhere, including terranes in Kazakhstan (commencing in the Late Cambrian); these siliceous sediments display many of the features described from eastern Australia.
- Depositional environments
- Pelagic biota