Torlesse Composite Terrane

  (Redirected from Torlesse Greywacke)

The Torlesse Composite Terrane is a plate tectonic terrane forming part of the South Island of New Zealand. It contains the Rakaia, Aspiring and Pahau Terranes and the Esk Head Belt.[1] Greywacke (or Torlesse Greywacke) is the dominant rock type of the composite terrane; argillite is less common and there are minor basalt occurrences. The Torlesse Composite Terrane is found east of the Alpine Fault in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Its southern extent is a cryptic boundary with the Caples Terrane within the Haast Schists in Central Otago.[2] It is named for the Torlesse Range in Canterbury.

Torlesse Composite Terrane
Stratigraphic range: Carboniferous-Cretaceous
~320–130 Ma
Aoraki (Mount Cook) from Hooker Glacier Lake.jpg
View of Torless Composite Terrane at Mount Cook
Unit ofAustral Superprovince
Sub-unitsKaweka, Rakaia & Pahau Terranes, Esk Head Belt, Pahaoa & Clent Hills Groups
UnderliesCaples Terrane, Momotu, Waka & Haerenga Supergroups
PrimaryGreywacke, schist, basalt
RegionCanterbury, Marlborough & Otago Regions
Country New Zealand
Type section
Named forTorlesse Range
Cross Section New Zealand geology.jpg
Cross-section of New Zealand's stratigraphy


The Rakaia Terrane rocks, of Permian to late Triassic age (300–200 Ma), occur south of Rangiora. The Pahau Terrane rocks, of Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous age (160–100 Ma), occur to the north, and are probably derived from the Rakaia Terrane. At the boundary between these two terranes is the Esk Head Belt, an 11-kilometre (6.8 mi) wide mélange of broken and deformed rocks. The Aspiring Terrane (Aspiring Lithologic Association) is officially included within the Torlesse Composite Terrane; however, it has a higher proportion of igneous rocks and a different sedimentary source.[3] Its original relationship with the Rakaia Terrane is obscured by the Haast Schist.


The greywacke of the Torlesse Composite Terrane was deposited on the eastern side of New Zealand from the Late Carboniferous through to the Middle Cretaceous. It was deposited in giant deep sea fans that extended beyond the ends of ancient submarine canyons. A fan starts with a submarine canyon on the continental shelf. Then turbidity currents rush down the canyon like giant undersea avalanches. They carry all sorts of sediments from the shallower seafloor of the continental shelf. At the end of the canyon the turbidity current spreads out and creates giant fans of sediment that blanket the deep seafloor. These sediments may have derived in part from the granitic rocks of northeastern Australia, as suggested by studies of the mineral grains.[4]


The Torlesse Composite Terrane has undergone metamorphism and been transformed into Haast Schist. In the Haast Schists, the minerals that make up greywacke became coarser grained and altered to other minerals including quartz, feldspar and biotite.[5] Rare pods of pounamu (jade) are found in the higher metamorphic grades near the Alpine Fault.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "New Zealand Stratigraphic Lexicon". GNS Science.
  2. ^ "New Zealand Geology: an illustrated guide" (PDF).
  3. ^ Jugum, D; Norris, RH; Palin, JM (2013). "Late Jurassic detrital zircons from the Haast Schist and their implications for New Zealand terrane assembly and metamorphism". New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics. 56 (4): 223–228. doi:10.1080/00288306.2013.815639. ISSN 0028-8306.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "The Geology of New Zealand: Greywacke". GNS Science.
  6. ^ Cooper, Alan F.; Ireland, Trevor R. (2015). "The Pounamu terrane, a new Cretaceous exotic terrane within the Alpine Schist, New Zealand; tectonically emplaced, deformed and metamorphosed during collision of the LIP Hikurangi Plateau with Zealandia". Gondwana Research. 27 (3): 1255–1269. Bibcode:2015GondR..27.1255C. doi:10.1016/ ISSN 1342-937X.

Further readingEdit

  • The Rise and Fall of the Southern Alps, G. Coates published 2002