Plutonic rocks of western Fiordland, New Zealand: field relations, geochemistry, correlation, and nomenclature

Andrew H. Allibone, R. Jongens, I. M. Turnbull, Luke Milan, Nathan Daczko, M. C. De paoli, Andrew J. Tulloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides a comprehensive description of the plutonic rocks of western Fiordland between Breaksea and Sutherland Sounds. The area is dominated by the Early Cretaceous Western Fiordland Orthogneiss (WFO), but also includes smaller bodies of Paleozoic and Cretaceous granitoid. Plutonic rocks of western Fiordland intrude metasediments of the Western Province, many of whose age and terrane affinities remain undefined.

Paleozoic granitoids in western Fiordland include the Pandora Orthogneiss (c. 500 Ma) and widespread related sills within Paleozoic metasedimentary rocks; the All Round Pluton (c. 340 Ma); the Deas Cove Granite (c. 372 Ma); and possibly the Straight River Granite. The Pandora Orthogneiss is one of the oldest plutons yet found in the Median Batholith. Correlatives include the Jaquiery Granite Gneiss in central Fiordland and orthogneiss in Doubtful Sound. Plutonism of Ross/Delamarian age is therefore widespread in those parts of Fiordland where Cambrian or older Western Province metasedimentary rocks form basement. The All Round Pluton and Deas Cove Granite are correlatives of the S-type Ridge and A/I-type Foulwind Suites, respectively.

The c. 125-116 Ma WFO includes at least seven major dioritic and monzodioritic plutons in western Fiordland, one in central Fiordland, and one in central Stewart Island. Plutons which compose the WFO are distinguished by differences in their age, petrography, structural and metamorphic histories, and geochemistry. The WFO in northern Fiordland and the correlative Walkers Pluton on Stewart Island were emplaced in the mid crust (4-9 kbar) at depths comparable with some Separation Point Suite plutons of similar age. WFO plutons in southern Fiordland were emplaced at greater depths (1018 kbar). WFO plutons have been variably recrystallised to eclogite; omphacite-, garnet-, two-pyroxene-, and homblendegranulite; and homblende-amphibolite facies assemblages, reflecting different PTX conditions during metamorphism of each body. Some parts of the WFO remain undeformed and unmetamorphosed. Evidence of up to c. 6 kbar loading after emplacement is limited to WFO plutons in northern Fiordland and adjacent country rocks. Extensional ductile shear zones previously shown to locally separate the WFO from adjacent rocks are discontinuous later features, commonly localised along earlier intrusive contacts between WFO plutons and metasedimentary country rocks. They do not form a regionally extensive detachment between the upper and lower plates of a metamorphic core complex.

The WFO has previously been included in the Separation Point Suite since both units share a high Sr/Y (HiSY) chemistry and were emplaced at broadly the same time. However, the WFO and Separation Point Suite have distinct chemistries. Separation Point Suite rocks generally contain greater Sr, Na, and Al, and have lower Sr/Rb ratios, rare earth element and Y contents, than WFO rocks with comparable amounts of SiO(2). Many aspects of the WFO chemistry (aside from its HiSY character) are similar to that of the older Darran Suite rather than the Separation Point Suite. This may reflect a greater amount of partial melting during generation of the SiO(2)-poor WFO than the SiO(2)-rich Separation Point Suite. Alternatively it may indicate derivation of the WFO and Separation Point Suite from different sources, albeit at depths greater than those where residual plagioclase is stable. Relatively large variations in the major element chemistry of the Separation Point Suite reflect fractionation and/or accumulation of plagioclase, whereas the more limited variability in the major element chemistry of the WFO reflects minor fractionation and/or accumulation of homblende and/or clinopyroxene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-415
Number of pages37
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Erratum can be found in New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, Volume 53(4), 427,


  • Fiordland
  • Paleozoic
  • Carboniferous
  • Cretaceous
  • Western Province
  • Median Batholith
  • petrology
  • geochemistry
  • geochronology
  • structure
  • orthogneiss
  • Ridge Suite
  • Karamea Suite
  • Separation Point Suite
  • Western Fiordland Orthogneiss
  • Pandora Orthogneiss
  • Deas Cove Granite
  • Straight River Granite
  • McKerr Intrusives
  • Misty Pluton
  • Worsley Pluton
  • Malaspina Pluton
  • All Round Pluton
  • Secretary Island
  • Thompson Sound
  • George Sound
  • Looking Glass Bay
  • Two Thumbs Bay
  • new stratigraphic names


Dive into the research topics of 'Plutonic rocks of western Fiordland, New Zealand: field relations, geochemistry, correlation, and nomenclature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this