The extent of the Grafton formation is small by Clarence Morton Basin standards because the majority of the unit appears to have been removed by erosion. Exposures can be found as far as 30km south of Grafton to about 10km north of Casino. The full remaining thickness of the formation has been estimated at up to 442m but is probably less with the best estimate of 267m obtained from a drill hole at Grafton.
|Grafton Formation lithic sandstone near Casino|
One author (Wells and O'Brien 1994) suggests that the Grafton formation (and the Kangaroo Creek Sandstone) may also be equivalent to the Woodenbing beds (located between Urbenville/Woodenbong and Kyogle) and even though they are lithologically (rock composition) different this is still possible. An alternative by Willis 1994 is that it is the equivalent of the McLean Sandstone Member of the Walloon Coal Measures. But this will be discussed in detail in a future post.
The formation overlies the Kangaroo Creek Sandstone and is gradational meaning that the Kangaroo Creek Sandstone grades into the Grafton formation. Thankfully, recognising the difference is not hard on the basis of lithology (rock type) because the Kangaroo Creek Sandstone is very consistent in appearance (saccharoidal texture and abundant cross bedding) and consistent rock composition (quartz sandstone). The top Grafton formation has been eroded and is overlain by the more recent Cenozoic volcanics.
The Grafton formation was deposited in a mainly fluvial (riverine) environment with the more common siltstones and mudstones in the south probably being deposited in a lacustrine (lake) environment. This led to an idea that the source of the rivers and lakes that laid down the sediments in Grafton Formation was from the north but recent revisions of the probable mountain chains that existed at the time means that this many not necessarily be the case. Wells and O'Brien (1994) give the maximum age of the Grafton Formation as late Jurassic.
Interestingly, Grafton Formation is the only rock unit in the Clarence-Moreton Basin that has any significant or active ground water sources. The basin has proven to be a very poor source for water because of the lack of volume. In fact the only volume of water obtained from the Grafton Formation is really only unconfined aquifers recharged from surface water and overlying alluvium.
Note: Since writing this post it has been suggested in a new paper that the Grafton Formation appears to be made up of two members. The new paper by Doig & Stanmore (2012) significantly increases our knowledge of the Grafton Formation. I will endeavour to do a new blog post with the updated details.
*McElroy, C.T. 1969 The Clarence-Moreton Basin in New South Wales. In Packham G.H.(ed) The geology of New South Wales. Geological Society of Australia. Journal 16.
*New South Wales Government. 2010. State of the Catchment Report: Groundwater. Northern Rivers Region. Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.
*Wells, A.T. , O'Brien, P.E. 1994 Lithostratigraphic framework of the Clarence-Moreton Basin In Wells, A.T. and O'Brien, P.E. (eds.) Geology and Petroleum Potential of the Clarence-Moreton Basin, New South Wales and Queensland. Australian Geological Survey Organisation. Bulletin 241.
*Willis, I.L. 1994 Stratigraphic Implications of Regional Reconnaissance Observations in the Southern Clarence-Morton Basin, New South Wales In Wells, A.T. and O'Brien, P.E. (eds.) Geology and Petroleum Potential of the Clarence-Moreton Basin, New South Wales and Queensland. Australian Geological Survey Organisation. Bulletin 241.