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History of Cambrian investigations in South Australia with
particular reference to the biostratigraphy
BARRY J. COOPER & JAMES B. JAGO
THE CAMBRIAN successions of South Australia,
particularly those of the Flinders Ranges, are
significant in that they include the best exposed
and most complete lower Cambrian succession in
Gondwanaland. In the Flinders Ranges they rest
directly on rocks of the Ediacaran type area, thus
providing excellent opportunities for studying the
transition from Ediacaran life to Cambrian life,
i.e., the so-called ‘Cambrian explosion’. The first
Cambrian fossils to be discovered in Australia were
found in 1878 near Ardrossan on Yorke Peninsula
(Fig. 1). The lower Cambrian succession of South
Australia provides a biostratigraphic standard for
Australia and Gondwanaland in terms of trilobite,
archaeocyath, brachiopod, mollusc, small shelly
fossil and acritarch zonations. The world’s first
early Cambrian tabulate corals were found in the
Flinders Ranges. A significant early Cambrian
lagerstätte occurs on the north coast of Kangaroo
Island. Tuff beds within the succession may
provide some of the first reliable absolute ages
for the early Cambrian found anywhere.
This paper provides a history of the study
of Cambrian rocks in South Australia, with
particular reference to the biostratigraphy.
Given the extensive amount of research that
has been undertaken it is necessarily selective.
Some mention is made of stratigraphy and
sedimentology, but because of space limitations,
only incidental reference is made to Cambrian
igneous rocks and tectonics.
The initial proposal that a segment of rock
strata, and hence a period of geological time,
be labelled as ‘Cambrian’ was published by
Sedgwick & Murchison (1836). The Cambrian
concept was based on fieldwork that Sedgwick
COOPER, B.J. & JAGO, J.B., 2007:09:03. History of Cambrian investigations in South Australia
with particular reference to the biostratigraphy. Memoirs of the Association of Australasian
Palaeontologists 33, 1-27. ISSN 0810-8889.
The Mt Lofty and Flinders Ranges of South Australia have been compared with classic Cambrian
sections since the earliest records of European colonists in the 1830s. Fossils, although long
expected, were not definitively described until the discoveries of a local school teacher, J.G.O.
Tepper, at Ardrossan in 1878, supported by Ralph Tate at the newly established University of
Adelaide. Tate also sent fossils to the British Museum and, following the relocation of R.L.
Etheridge, to the Australian Museum in Sydney for description. As a consequence, the first
trilobites and archaeocyaths were described from Ardrossan and the Flinders Ranges in 1884
and 1890, respectively. Walter Howchin found archaeocyaths in the Mount Lofty Ranges in 1896
and later supported a major monographic study of archaeocyaths by T.G. Taylor (1906-1910),
which highlighted the famous Ajax Mine section for the first time. Howchin’s fieldwork also
established the complete stratigraphic succession of Cambrian strata in the Mt. Lofty/Flinders
Ranges, work that was extended by Sir Douglas Mawson during the 1930s. At this time, R.W.
Segnit also appreciated the importance of sections in the Mt. Scott Range and recognised the
unconformity at the base of the Cambrian, while R. Bedford of Kyancutta was one of the world’s
leading experts on archaeocyaths. After World War II, systematic geological mapping of the
Cambrian commenced initially under the guidance of R.C. Sprigg who discovered Cambrian
trilobites on Kangaroo Island. Sprigg also targeted the Cambrian as a potential petroleum
source. Brian Daily completed a doctoral degree on the Cambrian of South Australia in 1956
and focussed his subsequent research career on its study. Since the 1970s, his students have also
made a significant contribution to Cambrian sedimentology and stratigraphy. Recent decades
have seen a significant increase in Cambrian palaeontological research.
B.J. Cooper (corresponding author: cooper.barry@saugov.sa.gov.au), Primary Industries and
Resources SA, GPO Box 1671 Adelaide SA 5001, Australia; J.B. Jago (Jim.Jago@unisa.edu.
au), School of Natural and Built Environments, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes,
SA 5095, Australia. Received 10 April 2007.
Keywords: South Australia, Cambrian, history, stratigraphy, Archaeocyatha, trilobites.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007)
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Lake
Torrens
Lake
Gairdner
Lake
Frome
Kulpara
Kanyaka
Emu Bay
Blinman
Delamere
Ediacara
Kyancutta
Curramulka
Parachilna
Second Valley
Grindstone
Range
Sellicks Hill
Mt McKinlay
Wilkatana
Wirrealpa
Hawker
Kapunda
Whyalla
Willunga
ADELAIDE
Ardrossan
Andamooka
Port
Pirie
Normanville
Leigh Creek
Macclesfield
Port
Lincoln
Port Augusta
Ajax Mine
PIRSA Publishing Services 203427_001
0 100 20050
Kilometres
KANGAROO ISLAND
EYRE PENINSULA
YORKE
FLEURIEU
PENINSULA
Spencer Gulf
Gulf
St Vincent
River Murray
Wilkawillina
Gorge
MtScott
Range
Flinders
Barossa
Valley
Mount
Lofty
Ranges
Big Gully
135°0'E 137°0'E 139°0'E
36°0'S
34°0'S
32°0'S
30°0'S
PENINSULA
Ranges
Woomera
Orroroo
Jamestown
Burra
Fig. 1. Map showing localities mentioned in the text.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007) 3
had commenced in the 1831 summer field season
in North Wales. The term Cambrian derived from
‘Cambria’, the name given to the ancient Roman
province based on Wales.
Coincident with Sedgwick’s work, the new
British colony of South Australia was being
established. Following passage of the ‘South
Australian Act’ in 1834, the colony of South
Australia was formally proclaimed on 28
December 1836. Notably, the colony was
founded utilising the latest theories and scientific
information (Pike 1957). Before the colony was
even established the South Australian Literary
and Scientific Society had met in London and
at its second conversazione in 1834 the topic
for discussion was ‘The Geology of Australia’1.
Furthermore, in 1836, J. Menge (1788-1852) was
appointed Mine and Quarry Agent and Geologist
by the founding South Australian Company
(O’Neil 1982) (Fig. 2).
FIRST CAMBRIAN RECORD AND THE
SEARCH FOR FOSSILS
In January 1839, little more than two years after
British settlement, no less a person than the South
Australian Governor, George Gawler (1795-
1869), wrote: “...In the Mount Lofty range it is
generally ‘transition slate’ very much resembling
the ‘Greywacke slate of North Wales’...”
Thus, from the very earliest period of European
settlement, a comparison with the Cambrian type
area was being considered even though Gawler
(1839) used the now superseded ‘transition’
terminology of Werner, then in common use,
which had long been applied to Sedgwick’s
Cambrian type area.
Soon after Gawler’s description, Menge
recorded abundant limestone and marble (later
determined to be Cambrian) whilst exploring
the Barossa Valley region and began collecting
mineral samples. In one list of samples (Menge
1841), the tantalising mention of “Grey slaty
magnesian limestone with traces of encrinites”
possibly suggests that he had collected yet-to-
be-described fossil Archaeocyatha, because
poorly preserved encrinites (a term applying to
accumulations of crinoid ossicles) may show
a misleading similarity to the cross sections of
archaeocyaths. Unfortunately, none of Menge’s
extensive collections have been preserved. Even
though fossils have not been recorded from the
metamorphosed Barossa Valley Cambrian in
modern times, one of us (BJC) has noted them
in the Milendella Limestone, 20 km east of the
Barossa Valley.
The early discovery of copper at Kapunda
in 1842, coupled with the need to establish a
stable local economy, strongly redirected early
geological investigations in South Australia
towards economic mineral investigations with
Thomas Burr (1813-1866), Deputy Surveyor
General, effectively becoming a one man
Geological Survey in 1846 (Cooper 1985). In
the same year, Burr published a pamphlet that is
today regarded as the first geological publication
printed in Australia (Vallance 1975; Cooper
1984). In this, Burr (1846) states, with respect to
the Mount Lofty and Flinders Ranges, that: “The
rocks of which the range is composed are those
which belong to the Primary Strata; in fact, they
appear to be the oldest of that class, probably
corresponding to the Cambrian and Skiddaw
systems of Sedgwick.”
Burr was referring to the whole mountain
system and thus to currently determined
Precambrian as well as to Cambrian strata. Such
references were common until at least the late
1920s. Most notably, Burr’s reference to the
Cambrian is almost certainly the first use of the
term in Australia. Burr was also an early European
explorer of South Australia. In the Flinders
Ranges, northeast of Leigh Creek and within a
short distance of important Cambrian reference
Fig. 2. J. Menge (1788-1852) recorded “encrinities”
in 1841, which may have been archaeocyaths. Cartoon
from Cawthorne (1859).
AAP Memoir 33 (2007)
4
sections, Mount Burr, Burr Creek and Burr Well
are all named after him.
By the late 1850s, marble of Cambrian age was
being quarried for building stone at Macclesfield
and Second Valley with some even being exported
interstate2. With no active Geological Survey, and
with local geological expertise by now depleted
as a consequence of the gold rushes in Victoria,
in 1859 the Colonial Government invited A.R.C.
Selwyn (1824-1902) (Fig. 3), then Government
Geologist in Victoria, to South Australia to report
on South Australia’s mineral potential (O’Neil
1982). Selwyn’s (1860) report is remarkably
wide-ranging and perceptive, despite being
based on a single two-month field inspection of
the Mt Lofty and Flinders Ranges, coupled with
information gathering. He compared the strata of
the ranges with the Lower Silurian of Murchison
(now partly included in the Cambrian) and records
that J.E. Tenison-Woods (1832-1889) mentions
fossils being collected from Willunga near
Sellicks Hill. Having not seen Tenison-Woods’
material, he concludes that: I have little
doubt, that though rare and not easily detected,
that fossils will eventually be found…”
Somewhat ironically, Selwyn (1860) records
specifically that the road cutting at Sellicks Hill,
reveals “very hard calcaro-siliceous rocks” a
place no more than a few hundred metres from
where W. Howchin, 37 years later, was to discover
abundant Cambrian Archaeocyatha. Selwyn also
provided a map, which shows for the first time
the distribution of many Cambrian limestone
outcrops in the Mt Lofty Ranges.
At the time of Selwyn’s visit, J.E. Tenison-
Woods was the only South Australian resident
demonstrably dedicated to geology (Press 1994).
As a Catholic priest, he had the opportunity to
travel widely and by the early 1860s was based
at Penola in the southeast of South Australia.
This posting strongly influenced his blossoming
geological interests, which began to emphasise
Cenozoic palaeontology. However, he did discuss
briefly the collection of Silurian fossils, “by
someone since deceased”, near Willunga, in the
region of Sellicks Hill, and “by his brother” at
Nuriootpa in the Barossa Valley (Tenison-Woods
1862, pp. 20-21) in his first major geological
Fig. 3. A.R.C. Selwyn (1824-1902) mapped Cambrian
outcrops in South Australia in 1859 yet found no
fossils.
Fig. 4. R. Tate (1840-1901) provided a major stimulus
to Cambrian research; he offered £20 for the discovery
of fossils in the Mt Lofty Ranges and encouraged
others in the description of Cambrian fossils. He
described Cambrian brachiopods.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007) 5
work. The Willunga record has subsequently
been interpreted by Howchin (1897) as the first
discovery of Cambrian fossils in South Australia.
The Nuriootpa record may also provide a
confirmation of the earlier collections of Menge.
The description of Genus Archaeocyathus, which
became the initial reference by which the entire
group of Archaeocyatha became known, was
provided by Billings (1861), based on material
collected in Labrador, Canada. It is highly
unlikely that Tenison-Woods had access to this
information.
TATE AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES
In 1874, the University of Adelaide was
established in South Australia and Ralph Tate
(1840-1901) was appointed Professor of Natural
History. Following his appointment, Tate (Fig. 4)
remained based in Adelaide until his death. His
period in South Australia, in conjunction with
the establishment of a permanent Geological
Survey in 1882, was one during which the
presence of Cambrian strata and its diagnostic
fossils was definitely confirmed. Although
primarily focussing on Cenozoic molluscs and
their stratigraphy, Tate also provided a major
stimulus to research on the Cambrian succession
not only through his own papers but also through
his support for others (Vallance 1978). Tate’s
efforts were especially channelled through the
establishment of a vibrant scientific society in
Adelaide, which became the Royal Society of
South Australia in 1880, with regularly published
Transactions (Alderman 1976). Tate was also a
populist, reaching out to the broader community
for support, and in the 1890s he offered a reward
in the range of £20, a substantial sum of money
at the time, to anyone who found a fossil in the
Mt Lofty Ranges3.
Tate (1879) provided an overview of the
geology of South Australia. He discussed the
fossil records of Tenison-Woods and assigned
the strata from the Mt Lofty Ranges to the Pre-
Silurian. In addition, he recorded the discovery
by J.G.O. Tepper of fossils in rocks of this age
near Ardrossan, on Yorke Peninsula. These fossils
have been subsequently recognised as the first
Cambrian fossils to be found in Australia. The
Flinders Ranges were assigned a Lower Silurian
age. Fossil evidence for this determination relied
on an ovoid stone provided to him by native
aboriginals that had used it for grinding. The stone
had been split revealing an orthid brachiopod. This
record, possibly from the Wirrealpa Limestone,
is likely the first record of Cambrian fossils from
the Flinders Ranges.
In 1878, J.G.O. Tepper (1841-1923) became
the first schoolmaster at Ardrossan (July
1878-July 1881), a small, newly established
settlement on Yorke Peninsula. Tepper was
also an enthusiastic naturalist, later to become
renowned for his contributions to entomology
and botany (Kraehenbuehl 1969). Soon after his
posting to Ardrossan, he discovered fossiliferous
boulders on the foreshore, undoubtedly sourced
from Palaeozoic strata. These were traced to
outcrops located in what is now known as Pavy
Gully or Horse Gully, 5 km south of Ardrossan.
Tepper’s investigations were published with
the encouragement and support of Tate (Tepper
1879, 1882).
Appreciating the importance of the discovery,
Tate (1882) identified a trilobite fragment and
a brachiopod from Tepper’s sites assigning
them a Silurian age. Furthermore, he forwarded
specimens to the British Museum of Natural
History where H. Woodward (1832-1921)
and R.L. Etheridge Junior (1846-1920) were
Fig. 5. H. Woodward’s (1884) original illustrations of the trilobites, (2) Conocephalites australis, now assigned
to Yorkella, and (3) Dolichometopus tatei, now assigned to Pararaia.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007)
6
already working on Australian fossils, and where
Woodward had recently completed a monograph
on Carboniferous trilobites. Woodward (1884)
described Tate’s fossils in Geological Magazine,
an established British-based geological journal
that still thrives today, and which Woodward
had founded in 1864 and continued to edit.
Woodward’s (1884) descriptions and illustrations
of the trilobites, now known as Pararaia tatei and
Yorkella australis (Fig. 5), are the first descriptions
of Cambrian fossils in South Australia. They were
dated by him as “Cambrian or Lower Silurian”
age and lodged in the British Museum of Natural
History where they remain today. In his paper,
Woodward also notes that he had received from
South Australia “the remains of a coral” in further
material from Ardrossan sent by H.Y.L. Brown,
who had been appointed as Government Geologist
in South Australia in late 1882. This is probably
a reference to archaeocyaths.
In general, connections between the British
Museum of Natural History and Australia
flourished during the 1880s. Woodward’s son
(Harry Page Woodward) was appointed to the
Geological Survey of South Australia between
1883-1886, and later served in Western Australia.
Woodward’s assistant, Robert Etheridge Junior
(Fig. 6), moved to the Australian Museum in
Sydney in 1887 where he became a prominent
figure in Australian palaeontology (Walsh
1981).
Soon after Etheridge’s arrival in Sydney,
Tate assembled a further suite of fossils from
the Ardrossan, Kanyaka and Wirrealpa areas
and sent them to him. The material initially
perplexed Etheridge. However, he was fortunate
that significant works on archaeocyaths were, by
then, being published by G.J. Hinde (1839-1913)
based in the British Museum, J.G. Bornemann
(1831-1896) based in Halle, Germany and C.D.
Walcott (1850-1927) based at the U.S. Geological
Survey. The review of the Archaeocyatha by
Hinde (1889) confirmed Etheridge’s suspicions.
As a consequence, he was able to determine
archaeocyaths (Fig. 7) and to positively assign
a lower Cambrian age to strata at Ardrossan as
well as at Kanyaka and Wirrealpa in the Flinders
Ranges (Etheridge 1890). This provided the first
formal descriptions of Cambrian archaeocyaths in
Australia. Etheridge also worked on other South
Australian material sent to him by Brown at the
Fig. 6. R.L. Etheridge Junior (1846-1920) provided
the first identification and description of archaeocyaths
in South Australia.
Fig. 7. Illustration of archaeocyaths by Etheridge
(1890) showing specimens from Wirrealpa, Blinman
and Kanyaka in the Flinders Ranges. Reproduced with
permission of the Royal Society of South Australia.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007) 7
Geological Survey (Cooper 1992). By 1897, he
had confirmed the presence of Cambrian fossils at
Ediacara and 30 km east of Hawker4. Notably one
of Etheridge’s last published works (Etheridge
1919) was an extensive review of Australian,
including South Australian, Cambrian trilobites.
Vallance (1978) argues convincingly that
Etheridge together with Tate “heralded the
emergence of Australian palaeontology from
colonial bondage.” Their joint co-operation on
the definitive recognition of the lower Cambrian
in South Australia is another reflection of this
achievement.
G.B. Pritchard (1869-1956) was appointed,
in 1891, Demonstrator and Assistant to Tate
at the University of Adelaide and at the newly
established South Australian School of Mines
and Industries, now part of the University of
South Australia. Being young and energetic, in
addition to cataloguing Cenozoic molluscs, Tate
encouraged him to collect diligently the Cambrian
fauna and to visit Curramulka on Yorke Peninsula
where he examined and reported on Cambrian
fossils that had recently been exhibited at a
meeting of the Royal Society of South Australia
by A.W. Fletcher (Fletcher 1890; Pritchard 1892).
After a year, Pritchard left for Melbourne where
he progressed to become head of the School of
Mines (1897-1934) at the Melbourne Working
Men’s College (now Royal Melbourne Institute
of Technology) (Darragh 1988).
As a consequence of the Curramulka discovery
and Pritchard’s further collections, new mollusc
and trilobite species were described, figured (Fig.
8) and the entire Cambrian fauna reassessed by
Tate (1892). In this paper, Tate is more specific in
his age determination referring to Ardrossan and
Curramulka collections as a “fairly representative
fauna of the Lower Cambrian or Olenellus
Zone.” In his 1892 paper, Tate also involved W.
Howchin (1845-1937) (Fig. 9), then a dedicated
amateur geologist, who had published primarily
on foraminifera up until that time, and was then
employed as Secretary of the Adelaide Children’s
Hospital. Howchin examined thin sections of
Curramulka material and described Hyalostelia
sp. It proved to be a fortuitous involvement, as
Howchin succeeded Tate in his palaeontological
role at the University of Adelaide in 1902, and
played a central role in elucidating the geology of
South Australia, including the Cambrian, until his
death in 1937 at 92 years (Ludbrook 1983).
Tate (1892) and Etheridge (1905) also
Fig. 8. Illustration (Plate II) of the Cambrian fossils of
South Australia by Tate (1892).
Fig. 9. W. Howchin (1845-1937), centre, found
archaeocyaths in the Mt Lofty Ranges in 1897 and
determined the succession of Cambrian strata in
South Australia.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007)
8
described several brachiopod species from the
lower Cambrian rocks of South Australia. These
were later revised and refigured by renowned
US Cambrian authority, C.D. Walcott, in his
classic works on Cambrian brachiopods (Walcott
1908, 1912), after Howchin had forwarded the
brachiopod type specimens to him (Howchin
1929).
THE INIMITABLE HOWCHIN
As Howchin’s interests in the Cambrian expanded,
they differed from the palaeontologic orientation
of Tate. Howchin focussed on unravelling the
stratigraphic succession in the Mt Lofty Ranges
and Flinders Ranges. He made a major geological
contribution especially with his recognition and
interpretation of the Late Precambrian glaciation
(Cooper 1986).
Howchin’s involvement with ancient glaciations
was stimulated initially through the Australasian
Association for the Advancement of Science and
the charismatic leader of its Glacial Phenomena
Subcommittee, T.W.E. David (1858-1934),
Professor of Geology, University of Sydney
(Branagan 2005). With Howchin’s support, David
studied Late Palaeozoic glacial boulders and in
thin sections of limestone boulders determined
the presence of organic remains in erratics from
Normanville. In March 1897, as an adjunct to
their Late Palaeozoic work, David and Howchin
examined the area together and found outcropping
Cambrian limestone containing Archaeocyatha.
Subsequently in July 1897, Howchin investigated
the nearby Sellicks Hill area alone and found
abundant archaeocyaths (Howchin 1897), thus
confirming the widespread occurrence of lower
Cambrian fossils in the Mt Lofty Ranges and
Flinders Ranges.
Following pioneering mapping of the Mt
Lofty Ranges (Howchin 1904, 1906), Howchin
(1907) concluded that the entire fold belt was of
Cambrian age. He held this view in subsequent
works until 1927, by which time others had
suggested placement of the Precambrian/
Cambrian boundary at a point towards the top
of the sedimentary succession (Howchin 1929).
In 1917, Howchin submitted a paper entitled
‘Notes on the chronological position of the
Lower Cambrian of South Australia’ to the
American Journal of Science arguing that the
entire Mt Lofty and Flinders Ranges succession
was substantially conformable and should
be assigned to the Cambrian. The paper was
reviewed by C. Schuchert with further comment
by C.D. Walcott and rejected, as this expert U.S.
opinion considered that there should be significant
unconformities in the succession and that the
associated glacial strata must be regarded as
Precambrian5. Howchin’s close colleague and
supporter T.W.E. David (1922) proposed the name
‘Adelaide Series’ for sediments of Precambrian
age in the Mt Lofty Ranges, which provided the
basis for the regional chronostratigraphic term
‘Adelaidean’. However, David (1927) essentially
supported Howchin’s original position that the
entire Adelaidean was Cambrian. In his last paper
on the subject, Howchin (1936) still placed the
contact between the Adelaidean and Cambrian
rocks at the top of the Brighton Limestone within
what is now known as the Umberatana Group, i.e.,
Cryogenian in modern terminology.
Whilst not undertaking any further
palaeontological research on Cambrian fossils
personally, Howchin supported and encouraged
others in this endeavour. Following the example
of Tate, further trilobites from Ardrossan were
sent to Etheridge and duly described (Etheridge
1898). Following a preliminary visit by Howchin
to the Flinders Ranges in the University summer
vacation of 1903/19046, a fossil collection from
“a new horizon” (now recognised as the Wirrealpa
Limestone) in the Wirrealpa area was considered
by Etheridge (1905) and recognised as distinct.
In co-operation with David, a student from
the University of Sydney, T.G. Taylor (1880-
1963) (Fig. 10) was supported by Howchin to
study Archaeocyatha. He visited South Australia
and collected from sections at Sellicks Hill,
Fig. 10. T.G. Taylor (1880-1963) monographed the
archaeocyath fauna in 1910 and suggested that they
may constitute a separate phylum.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007) 9
Ardrossan, Wilson and the Ajax Mine, south
of modern Leigh Creek, in February 1906, in
company with Howchin and D. Mawson7, a
former Sydney colleague of Taylor, who was then
newly appointed to the University of Adelaide.
After preliminary work (Taylor 1908), Taylor
was awarded a prestigious 1851 Exhibition
Research Scholarship to study archaeocyaths
at Cambridge University where he completed a
substantial 130-page monograph (Taylor 1910)
(see Fig. 11). Here he was the first to suggest that
archaeocyaths do not belong in any extant phylum
(Rowland 2001). Taylor’s archaeocyath study was
his only palaeontological research; it occurred at
the beginning of a long career during which he
became an eminent geographer and participated
in Scott’s second expedition to Antarctica.
The superbly silicified archaeocyath locality,
adjacent to the Ajax Mine, which has been
highlighted by Taylor and subsequent workers,
was discovered earlier by renowned prospector,
W.B. Greenwood (1854-1919)8. Specimens from
the Ajax Mine (also called Elvina Mine) were
lodged by Greenwood in the Museum of the
South Australian School of Mines and Industries
in December 1891, together with information
that they represent the third locality of Cambrian
fossils to be discovered in the Flinders Ranges,
after Kanyaka-Wilson and Wirrealpa9. Howchin
(1925a) published a rough geological sketch
map of the Ajax Mine locality (Fig. 12), which
probably dated from fieldwork carried out in
1906. It reveals the structural complexity of the
region and explains why there is little stratigraphic
control on the archaeocyaths that have been
described from that locality (Walter 1967).
Following Taylor’s field collection, Howchin
further examined the Cambrian succession in the
Flinders Ranges in September 1906, although his
work was not extensively reported until much
later (Howchin 1922). Then at the age of 61 years,
Howchin undertook a west-east traverse across
the Flinders Ranges from Parachilna to Wirrealpa,
via the mining settlement of Blinman. In order
to access such remote areas, Howchin obtained
a free rail pass from the State Government10.
He would have used this to reach Parachilna
from where he traversed east including visits
to the Cambrian succession at several modern
reference sections including Parachilna Gorge,
the Wirrealpa region, Grindstone Range and
Fig. 11. Plate I from Taylor (1910) showing archaeo-
cyaths. Reproduced with permission of the Royal
Society of South Australia.
Fig. 12. Rough sketch map of the famous Ajax Mine
locality, probably dating from 1906, published by
Howchin (1925a). Reproduced with permission of the
Royal Society of South Australia.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007)
10
Wilkawillina Gorge. A cross section was drawn
through the Cambrian, extending upwards
through the Wirrealpa Limestone into the Lake
Frome Group of modern terminology. With this
work, Howchin described and placed the principal
Cambrian fossil-bearing strata in South Australia
in stratigraphic context.
Howchin (1918) re-examined the Cambrian
stratigraphy of Ardrossan and the surrounding
region. This work extended the known distribution
of the Cambrian and for the first time utilised
borehole information to elucidate the Cambrian
stratigraphic section, in a region where outcrop is
poor. During this work, Howchin took advantage
of his network amongst clergymen, which he
cultivated as a consequence of his supernumerary
capacity in the Methodist church. This enabled
him to gain knowledge of the geology and access
to the country over an extensive area.
Following the death of Etheridge in 1920,
Howchin sent reprints of Etheridge (1919) to
various international authorities. C.D. Walcott
responded by suggesting that Etheridge’s
determination of ?Olenellus from the Wirrealpa
Limestone would be better identified as ?Redlichia
(Howchin 1920).
Howchin (1925a) provided an extensive review
of the “fossiliferous Cambrian” of South Australia.
In this paper, as well as updating research on
known localities, he described the Cambrian
section in the Hummocks Ranges near Kulpara
for the first time. Howchin also provided the first
field description of the Cambrian in the Kanyaka
area of the southern Flinders Ranges that had been
first determined by Etheridge 35 years earlier.
In publications aimed at a general geological
audience rather than specialist palaeontologists,
Howchin (1925b, 1929) refigured the plate of
Cambrian fossils published by Tate (1892) as well
as plates from Etheridge (1919).
MAWSON, MADIGAN AND BEGINNINGS
OF THE MODERN ERA
Following the retirement of Howchin from the
University of Adelaide in 1920, Sir Douglas
Mawson (1882-1958) and C.T. Madigan (1889-
1947), and their students at the University of
Adelaide, made significant contributions to the
understanding of the Cambrian. Biographical
overviews of Mawson and Madigan, especially
with respect to their geological contribution, can
be found in Corbett (1998) and Twidale et al.
(1990), respectively.
As part of his teaching and research program,
Mawson (Fig. 13) began fieldwork in the northern
Flinders Ranges in August 1924 and discovered an
additional region of extensive Cambrian outcrop
in the region of Mt McKinley. As a consequence
of other commitments, principally Antarctic
involvement, many years elapsed before these
Cambrian studies were expanded and completed
in the late 1930s with student assistance (Mawson
1937, 1938, 1939) with later publication of a
sketch map (Mawson 1942). Mawson’s research
was characterised by the description of long
measured sections through Cambrian strata
(Fig. 14). Over the same period C.T. Madigan
undertook detailed mapping of the Cambrian
along the coastline of Fleurieu Peninsula, thus
determining the overturned nature of this section
(Madigan 1925, 1926, 1927).
Students, T.A. Barnes and A. Kleeman, re-
examined the Cambrian around Kulpara (Barnes
& Kleeman 1934) and as a consequence of
their research, trilobites were collected and
sent to F. Chapman (1864-1943), an eminent
palaeontologist based at the National Museum
of Victoria, Melbourne. However, these were
not documented until Öpik (1975) described
two species as Bigotina tina and Dolerolenus(?)
sp. Assistance from Chapman with Cambrian
Ostracoda, sourced from Curramulka, was also
solicited by Howchin as early as 1906 and again
Fig. 13. Sir Douglas Mawson (1882-1958) prepared
long measured sections through the Cambrian of the
Flinders Ranges.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007) 11
c.1917 with Chapman (1918) providing the
descriptions. A fossil sponge from the Cambrian
was also described by Chapman (1940), after
Mawson forwarded the specimen. Chapman had
worked jointly with Mawson as early as 1906
when Mawson solicited his support to describe
Halimeda-limestones (Chapman & Mawson
1906) collected during Mawson’s 1903 expedition
to the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu).
Another student was P.S. Hossfeld (1896-
1967), who mapped the wider Barossa Valley
area including the Cambrian as a Masters
thesis project, which was completed in 1926.
His research, although extensive, concluded
incorrectly that the metamorphosed Cambrian
carbonates in the Barossa Valley/Kapunda
regions should be assigned to the Precambrian
(Sprigg 1986). Despite his retirement at 75
years in 1920, Howchin remained active until
his death in 1937. Delays in the publication of
Hossfeld (1935) on the Barossa Valley and the
hills to the east that was critical of Howchin’s
contribution suggests that Howchin was sensitive
to these new interpretations. Howchin’s influence
was conveyed through publication of his own
geological interpretation on the Barossa Valley
(Howchin 1926) and via his position as Editor
(1901-1933) of the Transactions of the Royal
Society of South Australia11.
Whilst Mawson and Madigan pursued
Cambrian projects at the University of Adelaide,
the Department of Mines (incorporating the
Geological Survey) gained sufficient momentum
under L.K. Ward and R.L. Jack to facilitate
an expanded geological examination of South
Australia. Assistant Government Geologist, R.L.
Jack (1878-1964) reported archaeocyaths in a
borehole from the north end of Lake Torrens as well
as from the Mt Scott Range (Jack 1926)12. When
Jack left South Australia to join mining company
BHP in 1931, his successor R.W. Segnit (1892-
1965) increased geological mapping activity.
He returned to the Mt Scott Range, then poorly
mapped geographically, and recorded its potential
(Segnit 1939a). Surveying was undertaken, a
section measured and a geological map prepared
that recognised a disconformity at the base of
the Cambrian. As far as can be determined from
Segnit (1939a), this disconformity was between
what would now be termed the Ediacaran
Rawnsley Quartzite and the lower Cambrian
Parachilna Formation. Segnit did not recognise
the presence of the Uratanna Formation of Daily
(1973), which outcrops discontinuously as a series
Fig. 14. Measured section through the Cambrian of the Flinders Ranges (Mawson 1939). Reproduced with
permission of the Royal Society of South Australia.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007)
12
of valley fills along the Mt Scott Range between
the Parachilna Formation and the Rawnsley
Quartzite. Daily (1973) did not refer to Segnit’s
work. Furthermore, Segnit recognised several
distinct fossiliferous horizons in a conformable
Cambrian succession; he suggested that this may
extend into the Middle Cambrian, and called for
a thorough investigation by a palaeontologist.
His placement of the Precambrian/Cambrian
boundary appears to be correct by modern
standards. Segnit (1939b) also determined the
widespread occurrence of flat lying Cambrian
limestone and shale, based on lithological
comparison, near Andamooka, unconformably
overlying “Upper Precambrian”. Much of Segnit’s
work during the 1930s on the Precambrian has
been rightly discredited for its incorrect structural
and stratigraphic interpretation (see Sprigg 1986,
p. 73-74). However, his Cambrian investigations
were a significant contribution that have been
long overlooked.
An unusual contribution to knowledge of the
Cambrian during the 1930s was that of Robert
Bedford (1874-1951) (Fig. 15) and the Kyancutta
Museum, an institution that Bedford established
independently in the then remote settlement of
Kyancutta, on Eyre Peninsula (Cooper 1987).
Bedford, having museum experience and
collections from Britain, built a museum at
Kyancutta and proceeded to undertake research
into Cambrian Archaeocyatha and meteorites,
whilst managing the local store and post office.
He gained an international reputation through
exchanging collections with foreign museums,
but fell foul of the South Australian scientific
establishment through this activity (Sprigg 1989,
p. 69-70). Bedford claimed that his museum was
equal to Australian State museums and it gained
institutional membership of the Museums and
Art Galleries Association of Australia and New
Zealand. However, he was rejected personally
for membership of the Royal Society of South
Australia, and was unable to publish within
established scientific periodicals. As a result, he
created his own scientific serial, the Memoirs of
the Kyancutta Museum (Fig. 16) and proceeded to
publish personally his research on archaeocyaths.
In a series of papers (Bedford & Bedford 1934,
1936a, 1936b, 1937a, 1937b, 1939), 28 new
genera and 93 new species of archaeocyaths were
described by Bedford, jointly with other family
members. Research concentrated on material
from the Ajax Mine and involved extensive thin
section and acid etching work. With this work,
Bedford became the pre-eminent international
Fig. 15. Robert Bedford (1874-1951) established the
Memoirs of the Kyancutta Museum to publish research
on archaeocyaths.
Fig. 16. Front cover of the Memoirs of the Kyancutta
Museum No.1, published in March 1934.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007) 13
archaeocyath researcher of his era, establishing
communication with professional colleagues
worldwide; including then isolated Russian
archaeocyath researchers. He also demonstrated
the uniquely rich and diverse character of the Ajax
Mine archaeocyath fauna. In distributing copies of
his Memoirs on archaeocyaths, Bedford offered
his collections for sale13. In May 1934, practically
all the type specimens from Bedford & Bedford
(1934) were lodged with the British Museum of
Natural History. Type specimens from Bedford
& Bedford (1936a) were lodged with the South
Australian Museum. In 1948-1950, the types of
all of the Bedford archaeocyath collection that
remained at Kyancutta were lodged at Princeton
University, New Jersey, U.S.A.14. Pierre Kruse
(pers. comm. 2007) confirms that Bedford
undertook high quality archaeocyath taxonomic
work during the 1930s, despite his professional
and geographic isolation, with careful descriptions
including those of ontogenetic stages. Françoise
Debrenne (pers. comm. 2007) made similar
comments, but also noted that Bedford cut some
of the holotypes into several pieces and sold them
to separate museums.
Eminent Japanese geologist/palaeontologist T.
Kobayashi (1901-1996) provided a brief review
of the Cambrian faunas of South Australia at
the end of this period (Kobayashi 1942a). In an
accompanying paper, Kobayashi (1942b) referred
the trilobites, described by Woodward (1884)
as Dolichometopus tatei and Conocephalites
australis, to the new genera Pararaia and
Yorkella, respectively. Kobayashi based his work
on plaster casts that he obtained during a visit to
the U.S. National Museum. Kobayashi combined
five trilobite species described by previous
authors (Woodward, Etheridge, Tate) into Yorkella
australis and Pararaia tatei. Jell (in Bengtson
et al. 1990) produced similar synonymies to
Kobayashi. It has been suggested that if Japan
had won World War II, Kobayashi was to be the
principal palaeontologist in Australia. Following
the war, Kobayashi, based at the University of
Tokyo, continued to publish prolifically in a career
that extended until his 90th birthday.
SPRIGG, GEOLOGICAL MAPPING AND
PETROLEUM EXPLORATION
R.C. Sprigg (1919-1994) (Fig. 17) provided
the initial impetus for much of the post World
War II expansion of knowledge on the South
Australian Cambrian. Working initially as a
student of Mawson at the University of Adelaide
and focussing on the underlying Precambrian
succession of the Mt Lofty and Flinders Ranges,
Sprigg later (1946-1954) led the establishment
of a formal Geological Mapping branch within
the Geological Survey of South Australia, as this
organisation was expanded after World War II.
The regional mapping of the Flinders Ranges
started in the Leigh Creek area as a result of
the Premier of the day, T. Playford, wishing to
find more coal fields (R. Dalgarno, pers. comm.,
2007). As a result, over the next two decades,
systematic mapping of regions which included
outcropping Cambrian rocks took place first
at a one inch to one mile, 1:63,360 scale (e.g.,
Parkin & King 1952; Sprigg & Wilson 1953,
1954; Webb & Von der Borch 1962; Dalgarno
et al. 1964; Dalgarno & Johnson 1965) and later
at 1:250,000 scale (e.g., Thomson & Horwitz
1962; Dalgarno & Johnson 1966; Johns 1968;
Coats 1973). C.R. Dalgarno (1964) reviewed the
results of geological mapping of the Cambrian in
the Flinders Ranges over the previous decade in
a single summary stratigraphic paper considering
numerous newly measured sections. Dalgarno
pointed out that there are considerable lateral
facies changes within the Cambrian successions.
Some of the lateral facies changes are related to
the presence of intrusive breccias, first described
as diapirs by Webb (1960). Some of the diapirs
were active during Cambrian deposition and
affected the patterns of sedimentation (Dalgarno
& Johnson 1968; Daily & Forbes 1969). Dalgarno
Fig. 17. R.C. Sprigg (1919-1994), pioneer of
modern geological research on the Flinders Ranges,
discoverer of the Ediacara fossils and Cambrian
fossils on Kangaroo Island, researcher into Cambrian
petroleum.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007)
14
& Johnson (1968) recorded the presence of
archaeocyath bioherms in the Wilkawillina
Limestone in the region to the east of Wilkawillina
Gorge and archaeocyath-rich olistostromes on the
flanks of the Wirrealpa Diapir.
Sprigg also diligently sought fossils within
the Mt Lofty and Flinders Ranges from his early
years. In later years, he recalled that as early as
1936, he discovered what he considered were
arthropod remains in Cambrian strata beneath
the archaeocyath-bearing limestone at Sellicks
Hill (Sprigg 1988), although this find has never
been substantiated. Later he discovered and
described as “Early Cambrian” the first localities
of Ediacaran fossils in the Flinders Ranges region
(Sprigg 1947, 1949). These were subsequently
reassigned to the Precambrian by Glaessner &
Daily (1959).
During the same period, Sprigg (1955) also
discovered Cambrian trilobites on the north
coast of Kangaroo Island. This succession
had been described much earlier by Howchin
(1899). However, until Sprigg’s fossil discovery,
their Cambrian age assignment had remained
uncertain. In the mid 1950s, M.F. Glaessner, M.
Wade and B. McGowran (University of Adelaide)
also discovered the now well known lagerstätte at
Big Gully on the north coast of Kangaroo Island
(B. McGowran, pers. comm., August 2006),
although the first taxonomic descriptions were not
published until 1979 (Glaessner 1979).
Another achievement of Sprigg was his
resolution of the age of the Kanmantoo Group
(Sprigg & Campana 1953). This thick succession
of phyllite, quartzite, siltstone and greywacke,
that outcrops extensively in the Mt Lofty Ranges
and Kangaroo Island, had been assigned by
earlier workers either to the older Precambrian,
as a consequence of its metamorphism, or
to the Cambrian following determination of
complex stratigraphic relationships. Sprigg, in
co-ordination with B. Campana, provided an
overview of this succession as part of the ongoing
mapping program of the Geological Survey and
unequivocally demonstrated its Cambrian age
in entirety. Sprigg (1990) reviewed this issue in
Fig. 18. B. Daily (1931-1986) first geologist majoring on the Cambrian in South Australia with members of the
Precambrian-Cambrian boundary Working Group visiting the Flinders Ranges in August 1976. From left are V.
Poulsen (Denmark), V. Menner (USSR), B. Daily, C. Nelson (USA), T. Fletcher (UK) and A.R. Palmer (USA).
Photograph from T.P. Fletcher.
AAP Memoir 33 (2007) 15
hindsight from a geological structure perspective
giving particular credit to the early work of
Madigan (1925) and the student research of Abele
& McGowran (1959).
Following his departure from the Geological
Survey in 1954, Sprigg focussed on the Cambrian
as a potential source of petroleum, in his role
as a geological consultant to the then fledging
petroleum exploration company, Santos. The
first petroleum exploration wells drilled in 1955
by Santos in the Wilkatana area, north of Port
Augusta, targeted subsurface Cambrian west of
the Flinders Ranges and found archaeocyath-
bearing limestone (Sprigg 1990, 1993).
The Cambrian succession was subsequently
widely recognised through petroleum exploration
in the subsurface of South Australia during the late
1950s and 1960s, most notably through the work
of H. Wopfner at the Geological Survey (Wopfner
1970a, b, 1972), but also through the work of
Sprigg and Daily on Yorke Peninsula and beneath
St Vincent Gulf. In 1969 the Geological Survey
published the Handbook of South Australian
Geology (Parkin 1969), which includes a detailed
summary of Cambrian stratigraphy produced by
H. Wopfner and B. Thomson. Wopfner (1972)
recognised a Cambro-Devonian depositional
phase in South Australia and suggested that
these regions of cratonic deposition be named
the Stansbury, Arrowie, Warburton and Officer
Basins.
DAILY, HIS STUDENTS AND
COLLEAGUES
Brian Daily (1931-1986) (Fig. 18) was the first
geologist to make the Cambrian stratigraphy of
South Australia his primary specialty, devoting
the major portion of his research career and
publications to its study. Daily was an enthusiastic
field geologist, inspirational to a large number of
students, whilst being generous in showing and
collaborating with others on South Australian
Cambrian stratigraphy. Following his early death,
a volume of papers dedicated to Daily reflects the
appreciation of 35 colleagues on his contribution
(Jago & Moore 1990).
Daily undertook his Ph.D. on the Cambrian
of South Australia at the University of Adelaide
(1953-56) under M.F. Glaessner and joined the
staff of the University in 1961 after a period as
Curator at the South Australian Museum. Daily’s
Ph.D. research attained immediate international
significance because it was presented as a paper
by A.A. Öpik at the first major international
Cambrian conference held as part of the 20th
International Geological Congress in Mexico
City during 1956 (B. McGowran, pers comm.,
November 2006). The 12 Faunal Assemblages
that were proposed as a consequence of his Ph.D.
research (Daily 1956) provided the basis for
biostratigraphic correlation between the lower
Cambrian of Australia and other continents
for more than 30 years. Unfortunately, Daily
produced no formal taxonomic studies to back
up the proposed faunal assemblages. However,
Walter (1967) produced the first biostratigraphy
based on archaeocyathan taxonomy from the
lower Cambrian of the Wilkawillina Gorge area
of the Flinders Ranges. This work was based on
an honours project supervised by M. Glaessner
and M. Wade.
During the 1960s, Daily focussed his attention
on Fleurieu Peninsula where honours students
Abele & McGowran (1959) had already provided
a modern stratigraphic treatment of the Sellicks
Hill-Normanville area. The angular unconformity
between the Precambrian and Cambrian rocks
on Fleurieu Peninsula was first recognised by
Thomson & Horwitz (1961) at the base of what
Daily (1963) termed the Mt Terrible Formation.
Although Daily (1963) expressed doubts as to
the exact position of the Precambrian-Cambrian
boundary, he later supported the position of
Thomson and Horwitz (Daily 1969). Daily
complemented the work of Abele and McGowran
by recognising the same succession in the
metamorphosed terrain around Delamere further
south (Daily 1963, 1969). This was followed up
by a major collaborative project with A.R. Milnes,
primarily whilst Milnes was a research student
at the University of Adelaide, which produced
the first detailed subdivision of the overlying
Kanmantoo Group. This was based on superb
outcrop sections along the south coast of Fleurieu
Peninsula (Daily & Milnes 1971, 1972, 1973).
Daily et al. (1976, 1979) provided summaries of
the Kanmantoo Group stratigraphy on Fleurieu
Peninsula and Kangaroo Island, respectively.
Daily also elucidated the Cambrian stratigraphy
of Yorke Peninsula, largely based on the study of
borehole data. Although this work was completed
in about 1974, it was not published until after his
death (Daily 1990).
With the establishment of the International
Geological Correlation Program (IGCP), Daily
became heavily involved from its commencement
in one of its first major projects (IGCP Working
Group 29 - Precambrian/Cambrian Boundary)
with the result that careful research was
undertaken to determine the precise nature and
position of the Cambrian/Precambrian boundary
in South Australia and its characteristic trace
fossil assemblage (Daily 1972, 1973, 1976a).
Glaessner (1990) has reviewed Daily’s critical
involvement in this project. The Precambrian-
Cambrian boundary was a focus for the Cambrian
AAP Memoir 33 (2007)
16
part of a major pre-congress field trip to the
Flinders Ranges as part of the 25th International
Geological Congress held in Sydney during
August 1976 (Daily 1976b).
During the 1960s, Daily also identified
fossiliferous Middle and Late Cambrian strata
in the deep subsurface in the far northeast of
South Australia, southwest Queensland and
southeast Northern Territory in a thick succession
of sedimentary and volcanic rocks occurring
in petroleum exploration wells that have been
referred to the Warburton Basin. In a series of
unpublished reports, the abundant fossils from
Gidgealpa 1 were reported by Daily (1966).
Much later, Gatehouse (1986) synthesised the
Cambrian geology of this region, while Sun
(1996) completed her Ph.D. on the sedimentology
and biostratigraphy of the Cambrian of the
Warburton Basin. Jago & Youngs (1980) figured
Cambrian trilobites from the Officer Basin for
the first time.
Daily also supervised significant Cambrian
research by doctoral students during his tenure at
the University of Adelaide, which, in each case,
stimulated publications. His Cambrian research
students with their completion dates are J.B. Jago
(1972), E. Stock (1974), P.G. Haslett (1976), P.S.
Moore (1979) and D.I. Gravestock (1980). Earlier,
in 1967, K.J. Pocock completed his doctorate on
some South Australian Cambrian trilobites under
M.F. Glaessner; this resulted in the first modern
descriptions of South Australian Cambrian
trilobites (Pocock 1964, 1970), including the very
distinctive emuellids. The research later published
by Haslett (1975, 1976), Moore (1979a, 1979b,
1980, 1990) and Daily et al. (1980) is especially
notable for its sedimentological analysis of
shallow water carbonate and detrital sediments.
David Gravestock published his doctoral research
on the Archaeocyatha in a major monograph
(Gravestock 1984). Daily also supervised
numerous excellent mapping projects completed
by honours students on the Cambrian of the
Flinders Ranges. In one of these honours theses
(Mount 1970), the presence of a possible fore-
reef facies to an archaeocyathid-algal reef was
noted in the Mt Chambers Gorge area. Although
none of the honours theses were published, some
of the information was used in the compilation
of the second edition of the Parachilna 1:250,
000 geological map sheet (Reid & Preiss 1999;
Preiss 1999).
Daily encouraged the study of South Australian
archaeocyaths by the French palaeontologist F.
Debrenne who revised some of the earlier work on
South Australian faunas (Debrenne 1969, 1970,
1974a, b) and visited Australia for some weeks
in early 1976. This visit led, much later, to a joint
study of the archaeocyaths of the Sellicks Hill area
(Debrenne & Gravestock 1990).
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
Over the past three decades the Cambrian of
South Australia has attracted a wide range
of researchers, including several national
and international collaborations within local
universities as well as the Geological Survey,
ranging across palaeontological, sedimentological
and stratigraphic subjects. In addition to Daily’s
efforts, much of the inspiration for this level of
activity resulted from the efforts and international
reputation of his colleague, M.F. Glaessner, whose
research focus from the mid 1950s was on the
Ediacara biota.
In recent years, a more formal biostratigraphic
approach has been applied, with detailed
biostratigraphy being achieved, or at least
commenced, on trilobites, archaeocyaths, small
shelly fossils (SSF), brachiopods, molluscs,
acritarchs and trace fossils. This work includes
the substantial monographs of Gravestock (1984),
Bengtson et al. (1990) and Gravestock et al.
(2001). Almost all of this work has been done on
the Arrowie and Stansbury Basins, but some has
been done on the Cambrian palaeontology of the
Warburton Basin (Sun 1996; Sun & Nicoll 2004)
and the Officer Basin (Jago et al. 2002).
The first group to which a formal biostratigraphic
approach was applied was the Archaeocyatha
(Walter 1967). More detailed work by Gravestock
(1984) and Zhuravlev & Gravestock (1994)
distinguished three archaeocyath zones from
the lower part of the Wilkawillina Limestone
and equivalents that they correlated with the
Atdabanian of Siberia. Zhuravlev & Gravestock
(1994) also recognised an informal assemblage
of Archaeocyatha higher in the Wilkawillina
Limestone (and equivalents) as being of Botoman
age. Kruse (1991) described the youngest
Archaeocyatha in Australia from a small
assemblage in the Wirrealpa Limestone. Preiss
(1999) tabulated the distribution of archaeocyath
and radiocyath genera from the Cambrian of the
Parachilna 1:250,000 map sheet.
The first formal trilobite zonation was that of
P.A. Jell (in Bengtson et al. 1990), who erected
four trilobite zones that have been widely used
in intercontinental correlations. Paterson &
Brock (2007) have expanded on this work.
Other recent papers on South Australian lower
Cambrian trilobites include Jell et al. (1992),
Jago et al. (2002), Paterson & Edgecombe (2006)
and Paterson & Jago (2006). There are abundant
SSF within the early Cambrian limestones of
South Australia. The first major studies were
by Bengtson et al. (1990) and Brock & Cooper
AAP Memoir 33 (2007) 17
(1993), although the earliest descriptions are
those of Tate (1892) and the first modern
consideration of acid-separated SSF is that of
Bischoff (1976), who described the tommotiid
Dailyatia. Gravestock et al. (2001) erected three
informal SSF assemblage zones, together with
four informal mollusc assemblage zones and three
informal brachiopod assemblage zones.
Acritarchs have been used for Cambrian,
particularly lower Cambrian, biostratigraphy in
other continents for over 25 years. Although they
were first described from the lower Cambrian of
South Australia by Foster et al. (1985), it is only
in recent years that their use in biostratigraphy has
been attempted, particularly by Zang Wenlong of
PIRSA (Zang in Gravestock et al. 2001; Zang et
al. 1998, 2001, this volume). This work was used
by Zang in developing a sedimentological and
sequence stratigraphy model for the Cambrian
of the Arrowie and Stansbury basins (Zang
2002; Zang et al. 2004). This built on earlier
considerations of sequence stratigraphy by
Gravestock & Hibburt (1991), Boucher (1997)
and Gravestock & Shergold (2001).
Trace fossils are very abundant at some
localities and at certain stratigraphic levels
(e.g., Alexander & Gravestock 1990), but few
have been described. Mawson (1938) seems to
have been the first to report trace fossils from
the Cambrian of the Flinders Ranges. Dalgarno
(1962) pointed out the stratigraphic value of trace
fossils within the Parachilna Formation. Daily
(1972, 1973, 1976a) used trace fossils in his
work on the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary.
Mount (1993) used trace fossils to define the
Precambrian-Cambrian boundary in the Flinders
Ranges, but the abundant trace fossils from
numerous stratigraphic horizons in the Flinders
Ranges require detailed work. Jago & Gatehouse
(2007) have used trace fossils for stratigraphic
purposes in the Kanmantoo Group.
Some of the oldest known tabulate corals have
been described from the lower Cambrian of the
northern Flinders Ranges (Lafuste et al. 1991;
Fuller & Jenkins 1994, 1995, in press), although
Sorauf & Savarese (1995) have suggested that at
least one species may belong in the Porifera.
Christopher Nedin (1995b) undertook his
Ph.D., under the supervision of R.J.F. Jenkins
at the University of Adelaide, on the Big Gully
lagerstätte on the north coast of Kangaroo Island.
In recent years a considerable amount of work
has been done on the Emu Bay Shale fauna,
both at Big Gully and at Emu Bay, although the
lagerstätte is preserved only at Big Gully (Nedin
1995a, b, 1997; Briggs & Nedin 1997). Recent
studies on the Emu Bay Shale fauna (Bengtson et
al. 1990; McHenry & Yates 1993; Nedin 1995a,
1997, 1999; Briggs & Nedin 1997; Nedin &
Jenkins 1999; Dzik 2004; Paterson & Edgecombe
2006; Paterson & Jago 2006) have described
trilobites, arachnomorphs, bivalved arthropods,
anomalocaridids and other problematic forms;
undescribed taxa include phosphatic brachiopods,
hyoliths and sponges.
A cooperative venture between the Geological
Survey of South Australia and the Universities of
South Australia and Adelaide saw more detailed
studies undertaken on the Kanmantoo Group.
This led to an ongoing series of papers on the
sedimentology, stratigraphy and tectonics of the
Kanmantoo Group (e.g., Gatehouse et al. 1990;
Dyson et al. 1996; Gum 1998; Jago et al. 1994,
2003; Haines et al. 2001; Haines & Flöttmann
1998; Flöttmann et al. 1998a,b; Jago & Gatehouse
2007).
Only a limited amount of radiometric dating
has been undertaken within the South Australian
Cambrian sedimentary successions (Cooper et al.
1992; Jenkins et al. 2002; Gravestock & Shergold
2001), but the reliability of this work has been
questioned (Jago & Haines 1998; Paterson 2005).
It is significant that none of these dates were used
by Shergold & Cooper (2004) in their calibration
of the Cambrian time scale. The Delamerian
granites of southeast South Australia have been
dated radiometrically since the 1960s. A summary
of this work is given by Farrand & Preiss (1995).
Detrital zircon age spectra have provided valuable
information into discussions on the tectono-
sedimentary history of the Neoproterozoic and
Cambrian rocks of South Australia (e.g., Ireland
et al. 1998). This type of work is essential to
the understanding of the Delamerian Orogeny
which commenced about 514 Ma and finished
about 490 Ma. Further information is available in
Foden et al. (2006) and references therein. Over
the past 15 years, carbon isotope stratigraphy has
been used by some workers for correlation of
Cambrian successions. However, the only such
work published in South Australia to date is that
of Tucker (1991) who produced δ13C and δ18O
curves for the early Cambrian carbonates of the
Flinders Ranges.
Of Daily’s students, J.B. Jago, at the University
of South Australia, has done a limited amount of
work on South Australian Cambrian trilobites
(Jago et al. 1984; Jell et al. 1992; Jago & Haines
1997; Paterson & Jago 2006) and initiated a
number of collaborative studies on the Kanmantoo
Group (Jago et al. 1994, 2003; Gatehouse et al.
1990; Haines et al. 2001).
David I. Gravestock (1947-1999), at the
Geological Survey, extended his work on
Archaeocyatha with international collaboration
(Debrenne & Gravestock 1990; Zhuravlev
AAP Memoir 33 (2007)
18
& Gravestock 1994). This work was used by
Gravestock (1988) in a field trip as part of the
5th International Symposium on Fossil Cnidaria.
In addition, he researched sequence boundaries
within the Cambrian (Alexander & Gravestock
1990; James & Gravestock 1990; Gravestock
& Hibburt 1991; Gravestock & Shergold 2001)
and produced a detailed study of the Cambrian
of South Australia (Gravestock 1995) before his
premature death in 1999.
Sedimentological studies on the Wirrealpa
Limestone have also been undertaken at the
Geological Survey by Youngs (1977, 1978), as
well as at Flinders University by J.D.A. Clarke
on the early Cambrian carbonates at Wilkawillina
Gorge (e.g., Clarke, 1990a, b, c).
Glenn Brock and his collaborators at Macquarie
University in Sydney have recently commenced
significant palaeontological studies, following an
earlier brief sojourn at the Geological Survey by
Brock in the early 1990s during which he studied
the microfauna of the Wirrealpa Limestone
(Brock & Cooper 1993). Recent papers by Brock
and colleagues include Brock & Paterson (2004),
Paterson & Edgecombe (2006), Paterson & Jago
(2006), Skovsted et al. (2006), Jago et al. (2006),
Paterson & Brock (2007), Paterson et al. (in press)
and Topper et al. (this volume).
In August 2006, the 11th International
Conference of the Cambrian Stage Subdivision
Working Group was held in South Australia (Jago
2006; Jago & Zang 2006). The present volume
contains some of the papers presented at this
conference. The purpose of the Working Group
is to establish internal Global Stratotype Section
and Points (GSSPs) within the Cambrian, in order
to provide a reliable basis for intercontinental
correlations. It is possible that work by Brock and
colleagues will lead to the proposal to establish
a GSSP within the lower Cambrian of South
Australia.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The work of one of us (BJC) has been facilitated
by Primary Industries and Resources South
Australia (Minerals and Energy Branch) and its
predecessors. The University of South Australia
has supported the work of JBJ. Brian McGowran
provided important insights into Cambrian studies
undertaken in South Australia in the 1950s; he is
thanked for constructive criticism of an earlier
draft of this paper. David Corbett and C.R.
(Bob) Dalgarno provided helpful reviews of the
manuscript. T.P. Fletcher and N.R.C Luscombe
assisted with the provision of the photos of Brian
Daily and Robert Bedford, respectively. Pierre
Kruse and Françoise Debrenne responded rapidly
to our request for information on Bedford’s
work. Historical archives and publications have
been freely accessed at the Barr Smith Library,
University of Adelaide; State Library of South
Australia; Royal Society of South Australia;
South Australian Museum and the Government
Records Group, Government of South Australia.
We acknowledge the assistance of staff at these
institutions.
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APPENDIX: NOTES
1. South Australian Archives 31: Minute Book of
South Australian Literary and Scientific Association.
Minutes of meeting 12 September 1834 with lecture on
the geology of Australia by Mr W.M. Higgins.
2. The South Australian Register, 30 July 1859,
reports from a lecture on Colonial Building Stones
that marble, later determined as Cambrian in age, was
quarried and exported from Macclesfield in the Mount
Lofty Ranges and quarried at Finniss Vale (Second
Valley). An earlier report on Finniss Vale appeared in
the Register on 28 April 1856. Further reports on marble
quarrying occur in the Register of 6 October 1858
and 25 November 1858. Current tourist information
for Second Valley (e.g., www.yankalilla.sa.gov.au/
webdata/resources/files/Yankalilla_Bay_Brochure. pdf
accessed March 2007) advise that Leonards Mill, which
is constructed of locally quarried Cambrian limestone,
was built in 1849, thus suggesting an earlier date for
the commencement of quarrying.
3. Mawson Collection, South Australian Museum
24DM/2 Box 51 (1926-1937) Letter: T.W. Edgeworth
David to D. Mawson, 18 October 1928. David advises
Mawson thus: “My work on the fossils of the Mt Lofty
Ranges commenced in Professor Tate’s time as far back
as at least 1896 when Tate was offering a reward, I
think of £20, to anyone who would find a fossil in the
Mt Lofty Ranges. Howchin at the time was joining in
the hunt…”
4. South Australian Archives, Government Records
Group 59: Department of Mines Letter Book:
Memorandum to File by H.Y.L. Brown, dated 13 April
1897 regarding Cambrian fossils.
5. Papers of Sir D. Mawson on South Australian
geology, Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide
MSS 9, Series 1.2. Manuscript entitled ‘Notes on the
chronological position of the so called Lower Cambrian
in South Australia’ dated December 1917 and letters
from C. Schuchert to W. Howchin dated 26 January
1918 and 4 February 1918, with the latter containing
comment from C.D. Walcott.
6. Etheridge (1905), which was first ‘read’ to a
meeting of the Royal Society of South Australia, on
4 April 1905, advises that Howchin recently collected
his Wirrealpa fossils. The Minutes of the Royal Society
of South Australia meeting for 7 April 1904, published
in Volume 29 of the Transactions of the Royal Society
of South Australia advise of a visit by Howchin to the
northern areas during the recent summer vacation. By
inference this was the likely time for such collection.
7. Mawson also undertook separate geological
research during this excursion, as evidenced by
an unpublished hand written report dated 1 March
1906 in the South Australian Archives, Government
Records Group 30/4/1906/300 entitled ‘Geological
report: Beltana District and Ajax Mine’. This report
mentions “archaeocyathinae limestone, which .….
have, in part, been considerably metachemised by
percolating solutions….”. Otherwise, this report
focuses almost entirely on the occurrence of metallic
mineral deposits. While students at Sydney University,
Mawson and Taylor had previously collaborated
on their first published geological paper (Taylor &
AAP Memoir 33 (2007) 27
Mawson 1903).
8. A brief biography of W.B. Greenwood is provided
in R.C. Sprigg (1984) ‘Arkaroola – Mt Painter in the
northern Flinders Ranges, S.A.: The last billion years’
Lutheran Publishing House.
9. The South Australian School of Mines and
Industries and Technological Museum: Annual Report
for 1891 together with Statement of Receipts and
Expenditure, Lists of Donations, Instructors’ Reports,
Prospectus for 1892, p. 112.
10. South Australian Archives, Government Records
Group 30/4/1905/1462 Howchin’s 1905 report to
the Government with grant of a further annual free
rail pass.
11. Hossfeld undertook his Master’s research
commencing in the early 1920s under D. Mawson.
Hossfeld (1935) acknowledges support from Mawson
as well as from L.K. Ward, R.L. Jack and W.G.
Woolnough. Within the text of his paper Hossfeld
writes “Professor Howchin’s explanation of many of
the geological features is not in accordance with the
facts observed by the writer”.
12. In Jack (1926), archaeocyaths are not recorded
in situ; however, Segnit (1939a, p. 65) notes that Jack
recorded outcrops of archaeocyath limestone between
Aroona Creek and Mount Scott in an unpublished
‘Report on Additional Underground Water Supplies,
Myrtle Springs Station’. Department of Mines South
Australia Report Book 11 p. 2 dated 1927.
13. Papers of Sir D. Mawson on South Australian
geology, Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide
MSS 9, Series 3.3. Letter: F.W. Whitehouse to D.
Mawson, 24 April 1936 “ I share your uneasiness about
Bedford’s memoirs……. It was distressing to find
within the covers of the paper, a handbill offering the
collection for sale. I wonder who bought it?”
14. The information provided here, on the
whereabouts of archaeocyath collections described
in the Memoirs of the Kyancutta Museum, is from an
unpublished report prepared by W. Riedel, SA Museum,
dated 20 October 1954, copies of which are held by
both authors.
... Faunal assemblages 1-9 derive from various carbonate units of the Hawker Group, whereas Faunal Assemblage 10 is from the Wirrealpa Limestone. Unfortunately, no formal taxonomic studies were subsequently produced that would enable confirmation or recognition of these assemblages (Cooper & Jago 2007). Nevertheless, Daily (1972, 1976b was instrumental in the recognition of the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary in Australia. ...
... Subsequently, most probably in the summer of 1903-04 (Cooper & Jago 2007), Professor W. Howchin collected further archaeocyaths which he passed to T.G. Taylor, who recognised four species (including three new) in the collection. As revised by Debrenne et al. (1989Debrenne et al. ( , 1990 and Debrenne & Zhuravlev (1992), these are ?Ajacicyathus equivallum, Somphocyathus coralloides (nomen dubium), Beltanacyathus wirrialpensis and a form attributed to the Sardinian species 'Archaeocyathus' aff. ...
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Full text pdf available from Department of State Development South Australia at <https://sarigbasis.pir.sa.gov.au/WebtopEw/ws/samref/sarig1/wcir/Record?r=0&m=1&w=catno=2038746>
... The Beltana report has been the subject of scrutiny by us as part of another study (Cooper & Jago 2007). It contains previously unpublished information on the long abandoned Ajax Copper Mine. ...
... In 1891, a prospector, W. Bentley Greenwood, is recorded as having first found fossil Archaeocyatha of Cambrian age near the Ajax (also called Elvina, Elvena or Emu Creek) Mine, 17km north of Beltana in the central Flinders Ranges (Cooper & Jago 2007). In exhibiting Ajax Archaeocyatha at a meeting of the Royal Society of South Australia on 5 September 1893, J.J. East (Registrar of the South Australian School of Mines and Industries) appreciated the unique quality of fossils from the Ajax Mine when he noted previously "unrecorded skeletal characters" 1 . ...
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A short, previously unpublished, geological report to the State Government in March 1906 by the young Douglas Mawson is earlier than any of Mawson's existing published works on South Australia. It resulted from his first visit to the Flinders Ranges with Walter Howchin and T. Griffith Taylor during the previous month. In this paper, the March 1906 report is published for the first time whilst the historical context of the associated field trip and its scientific results are also assessed.
... In later years Bedford established correspondence with other researchers into archaeocyaths including Russian-born Canadian Vladimir Okulitch and Russian A. G. Vologdin (Sprigg 1989). An issue that disturbed at least some of the Australian palaeontological community was that Bedford offered his collections, including type and reference material for sale (Cooper and Jago 2007). Bedford and Bedford (1937a) is a paper by Robert Bedford that was presented by his daughter, Joan, at the January 1937 ANZAAS conference in Auckland, New Zealand. ...
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Robert Bedford (1874-1951), based in the isolated community of Kyancutta in South Australia, was a unique contributor to world geology, specifically in the field of meteorites and fossil archaeocyatha. Born Robert Arthur Buddicom in Shropshire, UK, he was an Oxford graduate who worked as a scientist in Freiberg, Naples, Birmingham and Shrewsbury as well as with the Natural History Museum, Kensington and the Plymouth Museum in the United Kingdom. He was a Fellow of the Geological Society of London, 1899-1910. In 1915, Buddicom changed his surname to Bedford and relocated to South Australia. During the 1920s, Bedford expanded his geological interests with the establishment of a public museum in Kyancutta in 1929. This included material previously collected and stored in the United Kingdom before being sent to Australia. Bedford was very successful in collecting material from the distant Henbury meteorite craters in Australia's Northern Territory, during three separate trips in 1931-1933. He became an authority on meteorites with much Henbury material being sent to the British Museum in London. However, Bedford's work on, and collecting of, meteorites resulted in a serious rift with the South Australian scientific establishment. Bedford is best known amongst geologists for his five taxonomic papers on the superbly preserved lower Cambrian archaeocyath fossils from the Ajax Mine near Beltana in South Australia's Flinders Ranges with field work commencing in about 1932 and extending until World War II. This research, describing thirty new genera and ninety-nine new species, was published in the Memoirs of the Kyancutta Museum, a journal that Bedford personally established and financed in 1934. These papers are regularly referenced today in international research dealing with archaeocyaths.
... In addition, only general locality data and vague stratigraphic ranges of the most important diagnostic taxa were provided, preventing accurate correlation across and between adjacent basins Paterson and Brock, 2007). Cooper and Jago (2007) outlined the history of investigations into South Australian Cambrian biostratigraphy. ...
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Definition of early Cambrian chronostratigraphic boundaries is problematic with many subdivisions still awaiting ratification. Integrated multi-proxy data from well-resolved regional-scale schemes are ultimately the key to resolving broader issues of global correlation within the Cambrian. In Australia, early Cambrian biostratigraphy has been based predominantly on trilobites. Phosphatic shelly fauna have great potential as biostratigraphic tools, especially in pre-trilobitic strata because they are widespread and readily preserved, but they have remained underutilised. Here we demonstrate their value in a new biostratigraphic scheme for the early Cambrian of South Australia using a diverse shelly fauna including tommotiids, brachiopods, molluscs and bradoriids.
... He was especially prominent in promoting natural history in the young colony and the study of paleontology, in particular. Late in his career, he offered a reward for the discovery of fossils in the Mount Lofty Ranges of which Kangaroo Island provided a natural extension (see Cooper & Jago 2007). However, when Tate (1883) reported on the geology of Kangaroo Island, he simply concurred with the observations made by Péron, eighty years earlier, with respect to the Emu Bay area. ...
Article
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The early Cambrian (Cambrian Series 2, Stage 4) Emu Bay Shale Lagerstätte of Kangaroo Island, South Australia is significant because it represents the best Burgess Shale type fauna in the southern hemisphere. Although the original locality near Big Gully occurs in coastal outcrops with large (up to 25 cm long) examples of the trilobite Redlichia takooensis on bedding planes, it was not discovered until 1954 by Brian Daily; this was largely due to difficulties of access. The first taxonomic paper was not produced until 1979, after which work on the Lagerstätte was intermittent, with a substantial theft of fossils from the coastal locality occurring in 1991. In 2007, excavation commenced at a new inland site. This has yielded over 50 species, including some not known from the original locality. Taxonomic papers dealing with the new locality are now being published.
Article
The Early Cambrian eastern Officer and Arrowie Basins share a common sequence stratigraphic framework despite their contrasting settings. The Arrowie Basin was initially a shallow marine shelf between two land masses with moderate to abrupt shelf-ramp and shelf-slope profiles deepening to the north and south. Tectonic activity subsequently restricted open marine access to the north resulting in evaporite and red bed deposition. In the eastern Officer Basin epeiric sea sediments had open marine access only to the northeast. The palaeoslope was low and surrounding land supplied abundant siliciclastics. Following marine withdrawal alkaline playa lake and evaporitic mudflat deposits spread across the hinterland. Potential source rocks in the Arrowie Basin are thick transgressive and early high-stand deposits of the lowest three sequences. Organic carbon content may be highest (on slender evidence) where marine circulation was restricted. Carbonate reservoir quality on the shelf depends on subaerial exposure during marine lowstands. Prograding highstand sands, carbonate grainstones, and syntectonic channel deposits have untested reservoir potential. In the eastern Officer Basin potential source rocks are thin but widespread. Oil has been generated in the playa lake sediments. Fluvial, aeolian and shoreline sandstones, and those interbedded with carbonates, have excellent reservoir characteristics. The interbedded sands are thin but may be grouped near sequence boundaries. Lowstand carbonate breccias have generally unpredictable reservoir quality. Major differences in source and reservoir bed distribution between these basins, which share the same cycles of relative sea level change, are: palaeoslope, proximity to open marine conditions, duration of subaerial exposure and availability of terrigenous clastics.
Article
Five facies associations are described. The basal associations, i.e. tabular cross-bedded sands and bioturbated heterolithic shales, silts and sands are in part laterally equivalent. Succeeding facies associations are carbonate-dominated. Ribbon limestone, bioclastic packstone, and isolated bioherms were deposited in deeper water on a mildly unstable ramp attached to a shallow shelf. Periods of non-deposition allowed development of hardgrounds. Lithified sediments were reworked by storms as sandy conglomerates, and entrained with soft sediment in debis flows. -from Authors