Saturday 29 September 2012

The Dummy you'll find north of Armidale

One of the imposing landscape features on the north side of Armidale is the 1400m high Mount Duval. Some of my secondary education was in Armidale and I remember that the logo of my school actually had Mount Duval in it. Mount Duval is part of granite-like pluton called the Mount Duval Monzogranite. It was previously called the Mount Duval Adamellite; however the term Adamellite is no longer formally recognised. The intrusion actually extends in a crescent shape further to the west and includes Little Mount Duval which is roughly were the watershed for the Great Dividing Range sits, draining to the east all the way to the Macleay River. The monzogranite is considered to be middle Permian in age and intrudes several different complex rock units, one of these is a relatively small unit called the Dummy Creek Conglomerate.

Dummy Creek Conglomerate in the Sunnside area
metamorphosed by the Highlands Igneous Complex
The Dummy Creek Conglomerate is situated to the north of Mount Duval and extends to the east to the area of Puddledock, the northern side is intruded by the Highlands Igneous Complex. The Dummy Creek Conglomerate is comprised mainly of conglomerate but not exclusively. Lithic sandstone is a major component and it is actually what is in these sandstones that allow us to determine when the unit was formed, but more of that later. The abundance of conglomerate as well as sandstone and rarity of fine grained sediments like mudstones shows us that the sediments, gravels, etc that made up the Dummy Creek Conglomerate have not travelled far from their source. The clasts in the conglomerate show that the source rock was the underlying Carboniferous aged Sandon Beds (part of the Texas-Woolomin Block).

Korsch (1982) concludes that the original Sandon Beds was domed and uplifted by the intrusion of granite bodies of the New England Batholith such as the Mount Duval Monzogranite and the Highlands Igneous Complex. The hills formed from the deformation of the Sandon Beds began shedding rock, eroding and the sediments were deposited a short distance from these new hills. The intrusions continued to intrude shortly after the sediments were deposited which according to Holland (2001) created a complex system of overlapping zones of contact metamorphism. The intrusions were therefore emplaced in a very shallow crustal situation and volcanism was abundant and the Dummy Creek Conglomerate was quickly covered and preserved by a volcanic unit that is called the Annalee Pyroclastics which includes lavas, pyroclastic deposits and the like. It is worth noting that other models of formation by various other authors were summarized by Holland (2001) for instance some authors suggest that rock fabric studies may show a source only from the south.

A lot was happening in the Mount Duval-Tilbuster-Puddledock area during a relatively short period of geological time, indeed even during this time of change a substantial forest must have been growing in the area. The sandstone layers in the Dummy Creek Conglomerate preserve fairly common plant fossils. Most of the fossil remnants are fragments but there is enough to identify many plants with certainty. The most common fossil identified was the deciduous plant Gangopteris, a relative of the more commonly known Glossopteris, the main plant that formed the coal of the Sydney Basin. This plant existed abundantly in the middle of the Permian and so given that many of the rocks appeared to be forming at the same time these can be assumed to be close to this age too.


Holland, R. 2001. South western Margin and Contact Rocks of the Highlands Igneous Complex near Orana Falls, North of Armidale, NSW. Unpublished undergraduate research thesis, University of New England.
Korsch, R.J. 1982. The Dummy Creek Association: Rim Syncline Deposits. Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales. V115.


  1. Hi Rod,

    your timing on this post was impeccable!! About three weeks ago Bob Haworth and I were given permission to have a fossick on the property on the opposite side of the hwy from the Annalee farmstead. We got to have good look at outcrops of Dummy Crk conglomerate. Both Bob and I were struggling to convey to the farmer the geologic history of his property...and then came this gem of a blog. Perfect timing Rod. The farmer is now reading your blog.

    1. Great to hear. Thanks again for your support.