Big circles in stone near Broome are believed to be dinosaur FOOTPRINTS.

…..  are they the largest tracks made by animals in the history of the earth?

Dinosaur tracks in the Broome Sandstone have been known for decades, and became a tourist attraction at Broome.

These big circles, sometimes dishes or craters, sometimes displaying onion-skin-like peripheral rings, occur at many places from Boome northwards, and have been extensively interpreted as marks left from large dinosaur footprints.

Although there is little absolute proof of this (as large sauropod prints do not leave toe marks like the tracks of the three-toed dinosaurs show (also present at Broome) these structures in the rock are widely accepted as giant sauropod prints – and tourists have been taken to see them as such for a long time.   Very similar features overseas are also accepted as sauropod trackways.

The ‘Black Ledge’ occurrence in the bay a little east of Broome was nominated as heritage both to the local (Broome) Council, and also to the State Government (as State significant heritage).   Both the State Government and the Council have been slow to act on such nominations though.  During the course of doing this I came upon mentions of there being “human footprints” set in stone on or near the shore at two places well north of Broome.   Searching for those with Google I soon came upon information that an Aboriginal man (“member of the Broome Aboriginal community”) had been trialled at Broome courthouse in 2000 for having cut out both dinosaur and ‘human’ footprints, apparently using and angle grinder, hoping to sell the items to collectors.   There are a number of references to this easily findable, e.g. Amanda James on 22 December 2010 in Australian Geographic ( ).   

Amanda James stated:

In 1998, a missing carnivorous dinosaur footprint stolen from a sacred Aboriginal site was recovered.   A 120-million-year-old dinosaur footprint was among a series of fossils illegally removed from a sacred Aboriginal site in Broome, WA in the mid-90s. The footprint was recovered on 30 December 1998, its thief charged thereafter, while another invaluable fossil remains missing and shrouded in mystery ….. ‘The subject of illegal fossil trading has not been taken very seriously by the law,’ says Dr Henk Godthelp, a palaeontologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, who works to intercept the trade of protected fossils from Australia overseas ….. The fossils recovered in 1998 included ancient human footprints from a secret site in the Dampier Peninsula and a single large Megalosauropus broomensis footprint from a sacred site near Broome on the north-west coast of WA. The human footprints have been dated at 7000 years old, while the dinosaur footprint is an estimated 120 million years old”……. This 1997 heist was the second blow in two years to the scientific community, which still hopes to recover rare stegosaurus prints stolen from another site, near Broome, in 1996. Unlike the 1996 robbery, the perpetrator of the 1997 crime was caught.  Michael Latham, a member of the Aboriginal community in Broome, pleaded guilty to the theft of the dinosaur and human footprints. His punishment: two concurrent sentences of two years in jail” …….( The stegosaurus tracks stolen in 1996) are thought to be the only evidence of the stegosaurus in Australia.   Police were unable to link the two thefts.   ‘We have intelligence that those prints were collected to order,’ says Henk.  He says that some people believe that a private collector commissioned a thief to take the stegosaurus prints and may have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire them. ….  The missing stegosaurus prints have caused dispute between the Aboriginal people who govern the site in Broome, and palaeontologists who study the prints.  ‘It was controversial because it’s an inter-cultural thing,’ says Mike Archer, a palaeontologist at the University of New South Wales. ‘There was a presumption that a researcher had taken [the prints] away for study, based on the logical assumption that the prints were worthy of study and that palaeontologists collect fossils'”.

Other accounts differ slightly from Amanda’s.   Some suggest that Michael Latham was not so much “caught” as that he surrendered/confessed – apparently after finding himself unable to offload the footprints in rock which he had cut out.  

Who has dated the human footprints at 7,000 years?   Amanda James did not say. 

  Amanda James –


Re the trial, Tim White in Broome filed this report for PM: ( “Fossil thief gets two years jail”), on 22 February, 2000.

According to Tim’s report, “Latham removed the dinosaur print using a portable generator and an angle grinder, with the intention of selling it and the human prints on the black market. But once he had the prints, he couldn’t find anyone to buy them. He made an approach to a collector in New South Wales and offered the print for $250,000 but the offer was refused. When other attempts to sell them failed, he returned the human prints to their traditional owners and the dinosaur print to the police. The human prints have since been returned to the ocean, but the court was told Latham’s failure to sell the footprints was more to do with his lack of contacts rather than the lack of a market ….. Mr Hasluck says the footprints also had a considerable scientific value, particularly the human prints which apparently had dingo footprints walking alongside. He says the fact the footprints have been removed greatly diminishes their use for scientific research” … and needless to add, if the persons Latham gave the human+dinosaur prints threw them in the ocean then that too greatly diminishes their use for scientific research’ — yet the original trackway presumably still exists (minus a print or two)?

The  slowness to recognise the (dinosaur) footprints as heritage is somewhat surprising as dinosaur tracks are found off and on all the way up the coast from Broome to James Price Point.  They have been ‘threatening’ a major development site at James Price Point according to some.   The Weekend Australian Magazine of 27 August 2011 did the following article on this:


Palaeontologist Steve Salisbury says the Broome coastline is unique for  the number of dinosaur footprints.

( Photo:  Nigel Clarke.   Source: The Australian – See more at:

THE footprints are all around me, as large as spa baths or as small and delicate as a modern pawprint. It feels sacriligious to tread on them, even though I know they are firmly embedded in Broome’s orange sandstone. I skip over the smaller three-toed impressions, and leap across bigger, bath-like imprints.

As far back as 130 million years ago, a huge dinosaur lumbered past this spot and left its distinctive tracks. I hastily catch up with my guide, Louise Middleton, as she traces the animal’s giant steps across a wide, pitted rock shelf. Had we been transported back in time, we might have glimpsed a procession of plant-eating giants as they squelched their way across mudflats or browsed in tropical undergrowth. Looking down at my feet, I notice an exquisite, feathery fossil that hints at the fern-like plants that might have surrounded us.

Middleton has spent years combing the rocky shores of the Dampier coast. We squat to peer at the sharp-clawed print of an ornithopod, a two-legged plant-eater. “I was sitting on one boulder the other day, looked up and down the rock platform and realised there were tracks going in each direction for 500 metres,” she tells me.

In the mid-1980s, her late partner Paul Foulkes guessed that dinosaurs had caused the curious markings on sedimentary rock platforms; a keen naturalist, Foulkes had tracked them north from Crab Creek, near Broome, to beyond James Price Point, a distance of about 80km.

Decades ensued in which scientists occasionally arrived to check out the tracks; so did perpetrators of a famous fossil theft. After a WA Museum team filmed footprints at Gantheaume Point, near Broome townsite, in the early 1990s, the media exposure prompted fossil thieves to chainsaw a couple out of the rock.The experience left insiders reluctant to reveal any more information for fear of vandalism. It’s partly why so few Australians know about the Kimberley’s prehistoric riches, apart from the few bird-like dinosaur prints identified in the 1950s at Gantheaume Point.

But “Dinosaur Paradise”, as one researcher describes it, can no longer escape the glare of national fame. For it seems that Kimberley dinosaurs trudged along the very expanse that – millions of years later – is earmarked for Woodside’s $35 billion gas hub at James Price Point.Earlier this month, one of the proposed gas hub’s fierce opponents, Anne Poelina, was pictured in The Australian sitting on a rock near Broome.

When palaeontologist Steve Salisbury saw the photograph, he burst out laughing. “I thought it was quite funny – although I imagine she didn’t realise it, she was sitting on a whole heap of dinosaur footprints. You can actually see the cross-section of them in the rock layers,” he explains. “It illustrates the fact that a lot of people don’t realise what they’re looking at.

Once you do, it changes your perception of that coastline. There’s simply nowhere else like it.”A University of Queensland lecturer and research associate at the US Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Salisbury recently spent a week documenting small expanses of dinosaur trackway between Broome and James Price Point. With Middleton and photographer Nigel Clarke, Salisbury waited each day for low tide to reveal large pavements of rock. It was the week that anti-hub protesters had clashed with police on a barricaded road into James Price Point, but the trio were too excited by what was being revealed to dwell on the conflict.

Recalls Middleton: “I’ve walked these platforms for a long time, but when we went down with Steve Salisbury it was magical. I don’t know if it was visiting in the right light, at the right time of day, but the rocks came alive for us. We were seeing hundreds of prints and numerous tracks,  and the water sat like silver in ponds that were huge footprints. Steve said to us, ‘This is just one incredible megasite.’”“We documented it properly,” says Salisbury, “and my intention is to get it published in a peer review journal as quickly as possible so there’s no doubt about what’s there and how significant it is.”

His excitement lies in the breathtaking diversity of track sites. “There’s anywhere around 15 different types of dinosaur tracks along that coast, and often close to that many at a single site. Around the world, rarely do you find track sites where there are more than two or three dinosaurs. So the diversity is incredible.“Some footprints are the first record of their kind in any part of Australia. For instance, there are footprints belonging to some armoured dinosaurs, some of which may be stegosaurs. We don’t have comparable body ¬fossils for either of those [in Australia], meaning there’s no other record for them. It’s the first evidence that these animals ever existed on this continent.“

It doesn’t stop there,” continues Salisbury. “For the sauropod footprints, which are the most abundant in the area, there are none in the rest of Australia.” Sauropods were four-legged, slender-necked creatures up to 30-40 metres in length and weighing 70 tonnes. “Some tracks contain perhaps the biggest dinosaur footprints in the world,” he says.

That so few Australians are aware of the Kimberley’s dinosaur past is as puzzling as the delay in recognising its value. Only this month, the Australian Heritage Council found that the dinosaur tracks “have outstanding heritage value to the nation… as the best and most extensive evidence of dinosaurs from the western half of the continent”.   It said sauropods had left prints of “exceptional size and diversity” which represented a unique record of the dinosaur community.  The comments were contained in the Council’s final recommendation for heritage listing of the West Kimberley, the largest land area ever nominated for ¬ listing in Australia.

It cited as “rare, if not unique” the fact that Kimberley Aborigines have incorporated ancient dinosaur prints into their cultural stories. Traditional elders say certain tracks are the footprints of Marrala Man, an emu spirit that shed his tail feathers to form fern-like fossils. Twenty years ago, they created Broome’s coastal Lurujarri Heritage Trail that follows the dreaming path of Marrala Man and the roaming dinosaurs.

Salisbury readily acknowledges that he is not the first scientist to describe the vast extent of fossil prints along the Kimberley coast. Former University of Queensland academic Tony Thulborn, author of the textbook Dinosaur Tracks (1990), visited the area ¬ several times.

Thulborn recalled his early findings in a letter to the journal Nature in May. “The trackmakers represent every major category of dinosaurs: Theropoda or predaceous dinosaurs, Sauropoda – loosely speaking ‘brontosaurs’ – and Ornithischia or beaked plant-eating dinosaurs, both bipeds and quadrupeds.”

Salisbury adds that the Kimberley’s fossilised tracks far outnumber those at Australia’s famous dinosaur track site at Lark Quarry, near Winton in Queensland, where both men have worked. “It’s an area the size of a tennis court, with over 3000 footprints on it, quite a dense track site,” says Salisbury.

“It’s National Heritage listed, it’s got a $3.2 million building put over it to protect it, and it’s a major tourist attraction. But it pales into insignificance compared with this.

There are many Lark Quarries along this coast, so the same amount of investment should go into the Kimberley coastline.”

That these issues are being raised amid acrimonious debate over the proposed development at James Price Point has prompted cynicism about timing and intent. Has it all been a ploy to secure heritage status from Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke? Inclusion on the National Heritage List would mean that Woodside would have to avoid wholesale destruction of dinosaur prints, complicating its plans to build the massive gas processing plant and 6km-long jetty.And what about the three reports – commissioned by the pro-gas Barnett state government and Woodside – that claimed few dinosaur tracks of “museum grade” existed at James Price Point? (And if any were found, the reports stated, they could be removed and preserved.)

Thulborn is scathing of the reports, which he says were done by researchers unfamiliar with interpreting dinosaur prints, including geologists and a fossil shark expert. “One might as well expect any trained GP to undertake open-heart surgery or kidney transplants,” he says.

One report described “potholes” at James Price Point, which, says Thulborn, are in fact “perfectly good sauropod tracks”.  Near-perfect specimens also exist there, he says, plus a therapod track never before seen. As for suggestions about removing the prints, “it calls to mind those naturalists who would ‘save’ an endangered bird species by shooting the last few survivors and installing them in a museum cabinet”.

In 2009, Thulborn flagged the gas threat to Kimberley dinosaur sites when he addressed an international symposium in Spain. Eighty colleagues from 16 countries signed a letter expressing their concern.

The following week, Thulborn was threatened with eviction from a paleontology conference in England when he tried to muster more support. “They threatened to have me forcibly removed from the venue,” he says. “In retrospect, I should have taken up their offer; it might have generated some useful publicity.”

According to Woodside spokesman Dr Michael Hession, any destruction of prints would be “regrettable but … negligible considering the vastly superior quality of trackways found further south.” The WA government says if disturbing fossils is necessary, “traditional owners and the Western Australian Museum will be consulted on appropriate action”.

Thulborn says dinosaur footprints are not moveable items; nor is James Price Point a location that can be “sacrificed” due to “better” sites elsewhere. He says a wealth of information about animal weight, gait and motion is literally embedded in situ; what dinosaurs ate is revealed in rock-bound catalogues of clearly ¬visible ferns and tree vegetation. “A dinosaur track is a ¬complex four-dimensional object, the outcome of a dynamic interaction between a dinosaur and its environment,” says Thulborn. “It is not just a neat impression in a piece of rock.”

Middleton says she and traditional owners offered to help each survey team, but their offer was declined. “It’s not as if it’s something we made up because there’s plans for a gas hub here,” she says. “We’d concentrated on Gantheaume Point, but with the threat of development we’ve had to start talking about other areas. Yet we couldn’t just jump up and down and say, ‘Hey, there’s dinosaur prints all along the coast.’ We needed backing and recognition.”Traditional owner Phillip Roe says it’s time to bring worldwide attention to the dinosaur footprints.  “Woodside has got options – they can pipe the gas elsewhere so why destroy things?”

Regardless of whether the hub goes ahead or not, Salisbury says management is needed to make sure the footprints are properly protected. “Isolation and high tides are all that’s kept them safe over the years.”


“Large sauropod dinosaurs once inhabited the coastal plains near Broome, Western Ausrtralia, about 110 million years ago.  By Michael Skrepnick.  Various magazine authors have apparently covered the Broome circles and this is from one early article

Broome Hovercraft operator is pointing to funnel like deformation in sediment layering below one of the shallow circular dish like structures which are likely where big dinosaur feed once descended.  However, note that in the foreground there is another disruption ‘funnel’ with does not have a visible circle above it.  Note the red cliffs of “Pidan” earth.  This place is also sometimes called Red Cliff by tourists.

Broome Hovercraft –


Same place as above, by Nik:  “We have done this attraction twice. April 2010 and Oct 2011. The sunset in May was a lot more colourful. The nibblies are basic but very nice – only just enough for the 20 odd people on board.  The tour across Roebuck Bay to the dinosaur prints is very informative and interesting.  Watching the sun set from the tidal flats in the middle of Roebuck Bay is wonderful.  If you are thinking – mud flats – yuk.  YOU ARE WRONG.  These flats are silky to the toes and DO NOT SMELL.  The guide both times was very informed and very friendly.  A must do attraction”.

Tourists standing on the circles at the red cliff near “Black Ledge”, Broome.  (Photo:  Brian Kane) 


Site near Black Ledge which is visited by the hovercraft tours.


“Black Ledge Big Dinosaur Impression – Hmmmm Big foot” (Photo:  Mark Spark, 2005)


“Black Ledge Dinosaur track – Foot print trail”  (Photo:  Mark Spark, 2005)

Stated to have been discovered by Paul Foulkes in 1987 – and authenticated by the WA Museum 1990

( fide )

 Showing location of ‘Black Ledge’, near where the Crab Creek road runs south the meet the shore. 


Occurences of the big circles in the rock platforms close to Broome (there are occurrences at the red cliffs shorewards of Black Ledge – check also re Ganteume Point, at 500m towards town from Gantheume Point (at very low tide), at 2 km on the far side from Gantheume Point (at low tide), at Quondong as seen at the lowest tide, and also at the town beach down from the old meatworks site.

Variation in weathering  expression of sauropod tracks in the Broome Sandstone.  A) a shallow dish-like recess in exposed bedding plane (concave epirelief); the footprint’s filling is slightly more susceptible to erosion than the surrounding rock.  B) with sediment filling being eroded at about same rate as the surrounding rock surface.  C) footprints filled and capped by erosion-resistant filling persist as pedestals while less durable surrounding rock has been removed by erosion.  Broome Sandstone. All footprints shown are between 30 and 40 cm in length.    ( Thulborn, 2012)


Anonymous, 2009. Geology of James Price Point, Broome, Western Australia. 7 pp. Geological Survey of Western Australia, East Perth.

Colbert, E. H. and Merilees, D., 1967.  Cretaceous dinosaur footprints from Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia. 50:21-25.

Dutuit, J.M., and Ouazzou, A., 1980.  Découverte d’une piste de Dinosaure sauropode sur le site d’empreintes de Demnat (Haut-Atlas marocain). Mémoires de la Société Géologique de France, Nouvelle Série 139:95-102.

Glauert, L., 1953.  Dinosaur footprints near Broome. The Western Australian Naturalist.  3:82-83.

Long, J. A., 1998.  Dinosaurs of Australia and New Zealand and other animals of the Mesozoic era. 188 pp.  University of New South Wales Press Ltd, Sydney.  

Playford, P. E., Cope, R. N., Cockbain, A. E., Low, G. H., and Lowry, D. C., 1975.  Phanerozoic. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Western Australia 2:221-433.

Thulborn, R. A., 1990.  Dinosaur tracks. 410 pp. Chapman and Hall, London.

Thulborn, T., 2012.  Impact of Sauropod Dinosaurs on Lagoonal Substrates in the Broome Sandstone (Lower Cretaceous), Western Australia.  PLoS ONE,7(5)   [ e36208. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036208 ]

Thulborn, R.A., Hamley, T. and P.Foulkes, P., 1994.   Preliminary report on sauropod dinosaur tracks in the Broome Sandstone (Lower Cretaceous) of Western Australia. Gaia 10:85-96.

Bones at phosphate mines

Phosphorus (P) is a non-metallic element which is almost always present in a maximally oxidised state (PO43-) as inorganic phosphate rocks due to its reactivity.  Elemental phosphorus can exist as red and white (known to students in chemistry classes and once used in warfare but not found as a free element in nature).   It is one of the essential building blocks of life and life simply wouldn’t exist without it.   It is a key component of DNA, RNA, ATP and phospholipids and is essential to cell development, reproduction and in animals, bone development.

The use of phosphorus compounds in fertilisers is due to the need to replace the phosphorus that plants remove from the soil.  There is no substitute for this element.    In the mineral form of phosphate rock (mostly the apatite family of minerals) is not bioavailable to plants.  It must be processed to convert it to a plant-available form.   The mined product is is used to produce phosphoric acid which is then used to produce fertiliser products.

In this post I discuss a couple of ‘terrestrial’ phosphate deposits well known for associated bones.

Of these the Wellington Caves phosphate deposit in New South Wales is far more terrestrial than the West Coast Fossil Park one in South Africa.    The former is well inland in part of NSW which has not seen the sea since the Devonian period.   The latter was inundated by Tertiary high level sea and the fossils although mainly or terrestrial animals were likely deposited in peri-marine environments near a river mouth.

Phosphatic rocks go by the names of phosphorite, phosphate rock or rock phosphate.     The most appropriate choice of name may depend on the interpretation of origin.    At Wellington Caves the substance that was mined is probably best called phosphate rock.   The more extensive stratified bed of phosphatic rock, often marine sediments, are usually called phosphorite.

Most of the world’s commercial phosphorite  (used in fertiliser manufacture) is actually from marine deposits.

Phosphorites are calcium phosphate-rich sedimentary rocks, generally considered to have more than 15% phosphate content.

Texturally, phosphorites can be obviously granular, with fossil fragments or oolites or peloids or lithic fragments, or they can be composed of extremely fine-grained, phosphate-rich mud.  Compositionally, the phosphate component in phosphorites is principally a mix of apatite minerals: chlorapatite (Ca5(PO4)3Cl), fluorapatite (Ca5(PO4)3F), hydroxyapatite (Ca5(PO4)3OH)), and carbonate fluorapatite (Ca10(PO4,CO3)6F2-3).

Phosphorites are generally marine sedimentary rocks and they are known in sequences ranging in age from Precambrian to Holocene.  In modern oceans, they tend to occur along the eastern margins of some ocean basins where deep-water upwelling occurs under areas of high biologic productivity.

One of the most famous phosphorite unit is America’s Phosphoria Formation.

A piece of Phosphoria Formation phosphorate is shown below, as can be seen it is not a remarkable looking rock, looking just like dark sandstone.

Phosphorite can be explored for in the field with a reagent that turns the rock yellow if appreciable phosphate is present.

Since agriculture is nationally important, phosphorite can be considered a strategic material.

In the sphere of environmental opposition to mining phosphorite has been noteable on account of the “Phosphorite War”.   This is the name given to a late-1980s campaign in the then-Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, against the opening large phosphorite mines in the Virumaa region.  The movement, which peaked in 1987, was successful in achieving its immediate goals, but is also regarded by some historians as influential in strengthening the nationalistic movement which led to the restoration of Estonian independence in 1991.   There was fear in Estonia that the new mines’ need for a workforce would start a wave of migration, bringing tens of thousands of workers from other parts of the Soviet Union to Estonia (the proportion of Estonians in Estonia had already dropped from about 97% immediately after World War II to 61% in the late 1980s.   The Estonian phosphorite deposits are in the Obolus sandstone at the Cambrian/Ordovician boundary.   These deposits include the largest phosphorite deposit in Europe, and they had started to be mined in the 1920s.   The central government of the Soviet Union in Moscow took interest in exploiting the phosphorite deposits in Lääne-Viru County in the early 1970s.   The plan became known to the general public on 25 February 1987 when revealed on Estonian TV.    Numerous protests broke out and lead to an unprecedented size public debate later that year.   Faced with wide opposition to the new mines, the Soviet authorities abandonned the plans by 1988.   Although it might not have been intended or foreseen by the original environmental campaigners, the “Phosphorite War” activated the Estonian masses to the power of collective action for overcoming fear of the regime.   This is why it is said that it acted as catalyst for the destabilization of the Soviet government in Estonia ( ).

The general principle for expecting phosphate enrichment in sediments is associated with still-stands in sedimentation and/or the influence of phosphate-rich deeper seawater at areas subject to ‘upwellings’  ( ).  The most common occurrence of phosphorites are related to strong marine upwelling of sediments.  Upwelling is caused by deep water currents that are brought up to coastal surfaces where a large deposition of phosphorite may occur.   In addition to uprisings, estuaries themselves are also known as phosphorus entrapment places.    This is because coastal estuaries contain a high productivity of phosphorus from marsh grass and benthic algae which allow an equilibrium exchange between living and dead organisms.

Wellington in New South Wales is on the N-S running “Molong High” (a.k.a. Molong Geanticline) which is interpreted as a Lower Palaeozoic palaeogeographic high (volcanic high?) flanked by areas of deeper water.   The Molong High/Geanticline is rich in andesitic volcanics and also had abundant limestone deposition in each of the Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian (Early Devonian) periods.   In case upwelling, as described above, had occurred against the Molong High and enriched any of the marine sediment in phosphate, this area was extensively explored for phosphate.   No marine phosphorite was found.   The region does have many small phosphate deposits.    These are of cave filling type and the phosphorus may have come from bat guano and/or bones.

The Wellington Caves phosphate deposit is one of these cave filling type deposits, and the only one in the region that was ever attempted to be mined on any significant scale.   Smaller deposits elsewhere along the Molong High was mined and very quickly exhausted in the 1800s.   The Wellington Caves phosphate mine had a lot of development work put in, and it did produce some phosphate rock but overall the operation probably resulted in a sizeable loss of money.

After the crossing of the Blue Mountains, Wellington became a distant military outpost in the Colony of New South Wales.   A painting by Augustus Earle ca. 1826 (nla.pic-an2818409-v) clearly shows the entrance to what is today called Cathedral Cave at Wellington Caves .   This painting is labelled ‘Mosman’s Cave’ (who was Mosman?).   The first written account of the caves was by explorer Hamilton Hume in 1828.   Two years later the local magistrate George Ranken reported and collected fossil bones.   Due to Ranken’s exertions there,  this is possibly the first site from which fossils were collected for scientific study in Australia.  The Wellington Caves bones were sent to England for determination.   From them the genus Diprotodon was erected and a giant kangaroo species was recognised.

Ranken took the NSW Surveyor General  Thomas Mitchell (later Sir Thomas) to the caves and Mitchell collected a large quantity of the bones to dispatch to England.   They were subject of an address by Mitchell to the Geological Society of London in 1831.

In 1884 the Wellington Caves were declared a natural reserve and in the following year organised tours began, with  James Sibbald appointed caretaker.

The Phosphate Mine was developed during WWI, in 1914-1918, and probably produced about 6000 tons of phosphatic rock, despatched from Wellington by rail.   Where the phosphate rock was sent to and processed I have not yet traced.

The Wellington Council cleaned out the old mine passage and installed electric lighting in 1996, to enable tourism.

The phosphate mine is essentially part of the caves system, which by 2005 was receiving 50,000 vistors  annually.

Apart from viewing the old workings, visitors can see the ?800,000 year-old phosphate and bone breccia deposits containing fossil bones.   A number of loose bones have been piled on a dirt shelf in one part of the mine where visitors can pick them up and examine them.

Wellington Caves phosphate mine

The tourist brochures describe this site as the “Wonder of the West” and that “The Caves and Phosphate Mine complex is one of the world’s most significant fossil sites and specimens from Wellington are included in collections at museums around the world”.

Bones can be seen at the phosphate mine, a very popular tourist stop.   ( Photos: )

Walking through the restored underground mine one may learn about past mining techniques, along with the history of the area. In some sections there are walls full of un-excavated bone fragments from 300,000 years ago.  Towards the end of the tour you actually get to handle some bones that have been found on the site.

The Wellington Caves and phosphate mine  (Sources: Tourists October 1, 2010 )

Map of the phosphate mine at Wellington Caves.

The Wellington Caves phosphate mine is an old phosphate mine at Wellington Caves, situated a few kilometres south of the town of Wellington in NSW.

The production figures for phosphate rock from “Wellington”, presumably entirely from this mine, are:

1914 – 700 tons ; 1915 – 1,110 tons ; 1916- 2,002 tons ; 1917 – 2,000 tons ; 1918 – 300 tons.

Most of the best rock was extracted in 1916 it seems, for although a similar amount of rock was railed off in 1916 it brought a lesser return and so grade must have fallen off after 1916.   The site was virtually worked out in 1918.

The mine has been renovated and opened up for tourists by the Wellington Council.  It is regarded as one of the best tourist mine attractions in the State.   Wellington Council says:  “The mine not only features the workings of a World War 1 mine, but bone fragments and fossils from 300,000 years ago. Paleontologists from all over the world have been making pilgrimages to this cave since the 1930s and now you can too!”

Layers of calcite (dogtooth spar) cave rock over white phosphorate layer, and close-up. 

( Photos:  OzLadyM – )

One of the bones.   ( Photo: Vanessa M  )

Diprotodon skeleton (model).   This is the genus of giant marsupial which the site is best known for.  

A Heliolites coral in the Devonian limestone (Garra Formation) that the caves are developed in.   ( Photo: LadyOzM ),%20NEW%20SOUTH%20WALES&priorFolder=Caves%20-%20Australia

The Wellington Council has also developed at the Wellington Caves a Fossil Trail along which one may find noteworthy specimens of marine invertebrates in the Garra Formation limestone that the caves (and phosphate deposit) have formed in.


I personally suspect it was just another “failed” or unsuccessful mining venture, likely spurred by commercial need due to WWI cutting shipping supplies and so on – as also affected other commodities (e.g. for copper, causing the Great Cobar copper boom in WWI further west in NSW).

However I have not tried to investigate the matter closely for myself and some note may be made of the rumours one will encounter in Wellington, from the Council or Tourism office, or from the cave guides.

They may tell you of a “giant cover up” and this has been written up by the Sydney Morning Herald (at ).    The only thing lacking is proof but the story runs as follows:


“Scratch the  surface in Wellington, a peaceful farming town about a half-hour drive  south-east of Dubbo in central-western NSW and you’ll soon uncover a dastardly  tale of deception, intrigue and paleontological larceny on an international  scale; a mining mystery involving 300,000-year-old three-tonne wombats and an  illegal trade in rare bones”.

“The scene of the alleged crime is an old World War I-era phosphate mine on  the grounds of Wellington Caves Reserve. Today, it’s a veritable time tunnel  that has been preserved and restored to show just what it would have been like  to work in an underground mine almost 100 years ago, complete with original  timber sets and nails, old train tracks and pick marks on the walls”.

“But before it was a mine, it was a cave, according to guide, Bruce Day, and  home to vast colonies of bats that left behind tonnes of droppings, or guano,  rich in phosphates. The New South Wales Phosphate Company began mining the cave,  by hand, in secret, in 1914.  By the time the mine was abandoned five years  later, 6000 tonnes of phosphate had been removed for fertiliser.  But according  to Day, 6000 tonnes is a pretty poor yield and the phosphate was of poor  quality.  What they were really after, he reckons, were bones”.

“He leads me to a section in the eastern loop of the mine, known as the Bone  Cave, explaining as we go that the mine, or cave as it initially was, burrows  into a virtual hill of bones.  But these weren’t any old bones; they were  megafauna bones – the skeletal remains of marsupial lions, diprotodon (think  three-tonne wombat), giant kangaroos and huge seven-metre-long carnivorous  goannas.  The walls are embedded with thousands of bone fragments and fossils;  lit by ultraviolet light, the ancient bones glow eerily in the darkness. It is,  Day says, one of the world’s most significant fossil sites”.

“Despite all the visitors, many of whom left traces of their explorations on  the cave walls in the form of black carbon from their candles, oil from their  hands and, in some cases, graffiti, no one in Wellington had any idea the  phosphate mine was working for the first two years of its operation.”

The SMH article concludes with “The real answer about exactly what was extracted from the mine will probably  never be unearthed but, in the meantime, Day’s tale of fossil intrigue makes for  a fascinating tour”.


This article says that cave guide Mr. Day thinks that bone diggers looking to  make a quick buck from the illegal sale of the bones, were a “possible reason why there are no known records of what really happened during the five years the mine was operational”.

This would be an interesting little supposed ‘mystery’ to follow up.   Did the Council not know?   Indeed when was the Wellington Council formed?    The Wellington Council website is at but it does not appear to have a history of itself there(?).    Although it does have a webpage about itself ( ) this really describes the Wellington local government area rather than the Council itself.

Last year the Council actually had planned to convene a seminar on geological/mining history and heritage.   For some un-ascertained reason, however, this did not eventuate as planned.   Hopefully it is still planned to hold it some time in the future.


West Coast Fossil Park,  Langebaan. South Africa


Location of the fossil park, near Langebaan

This fossil park is close to Langebann and is associated with the West Coast National Park along the Atlantic coast.

This too was a phosphate mining area, where extraction began in 1943.   Similarly as at Wellington, many tons of fossils were possibly crushed along with the rock that was made into fertilizer.   Although many fossils were doubtless destroyed by mining, the mining also brought the fossiliferous nature of the area to light and over a million specimens have been collected and stored in the Iziko: South African Museum in Cape Town.   The area is probably one of the richest fossil sites in the world, and one with the greatest diversity of 5 million year old fossils; ,  well-suited to document the global climate and environmental changes that were taking place during the Late Miocene to Early Pliocene transition.   Thus far over 200 different animal species have been identified from the bones, which is why it may have the greatest diversity of five million year-old fossils found anywhere in the world

A recent (2011) major interpretation of the area is this one:


Regional and global context of the Late Cenozoic Langebaanweg (LBW) palaeontological site: West Coast of South Africa

a Council for Geoscience, PO Box 572, Bellville 7535, South Africa ;  b Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town, South Africa  ;  c John Goodsell Building (F20) Room 312, University of New South Wales Kensington, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia ; d Sheffield Centre for International Drylands Research, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK ; e Department of Plant Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.

( Earth-Science Reviews, Volume 106, Issues 3–4, June 2011, Pages 191–214 )


The palaeontological site of Langebaanweg is internationally renowned for its prolific, diverse and exceptionally well preserved Mio-Pliocene vertebrate fossils.   The site is ideally situated to document the complex interactions of ocean, atmosphere and land and their respective influence on climate evolution, given its location near the coast and mix of marine, estuarine and terrestrial faunas and depositional settings.

During the Oligocene drawdown in sea levels, the landscape was etched by river incision. Fluctuating sea levels of the Neogene periodically reversed the trend from erosion to deposition, preserving contemporary faunas and floras in the Oligocene palaeovalleys.  Earlier Miocene pollen from fluvial facies indicates a humid sub-tropical climate, reflecting a warm southern Atlantic Ocean. The abrupt late Middle Miocene global cooling (Monterey Excursion) coincided with intensified cold upwelling in the Benguela Current and extensive phosphate authigenesis.  A globally documented Early Pliocene highstand possibly related to the shoaling of the Isthmus of Panama reached ~ 90 m above sea level (asl), implying extensive melting of the cryosphere.

Palaeomagnetic data in tandem with global sea level reconstructions suggest an age of ~ 5.15 ± 0.1 Ma for the faunas and a correlation with the earlier part of this transgression. A subtropical C3 vegetation is indicated by the faunas and floras, but with a significant contribution by sclerophytic fynbos pointing to a cooler and more seasonal climate than in the Miocene. A mid-Pliocene highstand to ~ 50 m asl truncated the Early Pliocene succession and the globally documented Late Pliocene highstand to ~ 30 m asl saw the Atlantic shoreline approaching the park area for the last time. With the progressive climatic cooling and instability of the terminal Pliocene, culminating in the growth of the Arctic ice cap, strengthening southerly winds driven by a tighter coiled South Atlantic Anticyclone deposited extensive coastal dune fields over the region.

The phosphorate mining here was in the 5 million year old Muishond Fontein Phosphorite Member, which is a pelletal textured phosporite.

Fossil Park is in the sediments of the former Langebaanweg ‘E’ Quarry.  These sediments form part of the Varswater Formation which is in turn part of the Sandveld Group as shown in the above section.   The Varswater Formation is underlain by the Middle Miocene Elandsfontyn Formation, or otherwise by Neoproterozoic/Cambrian bedrock.

Overlying the Varswater formation is calcareous aeolianite of the Langebaan Formation, or else the unconsolidated quartzose aeolian sands of the Springfontein Formation.

The Varswater succession consists of four members, the oldest of which (The Langeenheid Sandy Clay Member) probably dates to around the early Middle Miocene . The Clay Member is overlain by the Middle Miocene Konings Vlei Gravel Member (KVGM). Above the Konings Vlei Gravel Member is the Langeberg Quartzose Sand Member (LQSM), which in turn is overlain by the younger Muishhond Pelletal Phosphate Member (MPPM).

The LQSM and the MPPM are the main fossil bearing deposits of the formation.   The latter contained the commercially exploitable phosphate ore mined at Langebaanweg.

The LQSM represents a number of different depositional environments, and although some sub-aqueous deposition of fossils does appear to have taken place, the majority of fossils are thought to have been accumulated on a flood plain.

The MPPM may have accumulated in river channels.

The MPPM and LQSM represent two separate, depositional events but the time period over which these two horizons were deposited, and the age difference between them is uncertain as the stratigraphic relationship between the two horizons is complicated and poorly understood.
The MPPM has been further divided into the “fossiliferous bed 3a” (which consists of northerly and southerly parts, namely bed 3aN and bed 3aS) and other undifferentiated, largely non-fossil bearing beds.  Bed 3aS is thought to have been laid down during a northwards shift of the river’s course, and bed 3aN by yet another, later, northwards shift of the river.  Bed 3aN has been the main focus of recent research into the ungulates (hooved mammals) at Langebaanweg.
Some 5 million years ago when the phosphorate formed,  the sea level was higher and the mouth of the Berg River was in the area of the Fossil Park (it is now 20 km to the north).    It is thought that fossils accumulated behind a sand barrier which kept many carcasses from being washed out to sea.   when the sea level later dropped Aeolian sand transgressed over the area.   The LQSM and MPPM deposits were probably laid down during the global, early Mio-Pliocene transgression which has been linked to global sea level changes.  The Varswater Formation occurs at ± 90 m at the nearby farm of Elandsfontyn, and this provides evidence for the sea level reaching ± 90 m at the time of deposition of the LQSM and MPPM.   Today the erosional remnanst of these units are found between elevations of 30 m and 40 m at Langebaanweg.   The late Pliocene regression truncated and covered both the MPPM and LQSM.

Conceptual model explaining the fossil occurrences in the LQSM and MPPM: A), Terrestrial to marginal marine palaeontological settings of the LQSM ( ~ 25 m asl); B), MPPM Estuarine conditions with phosphate authigenesis with further transgression to ~ 30 m asl; C), Glacio-eustatic regresssion to below 25 m and incision of ephemeral streams and concentration of fossils from different environments in channel lag; D), transgression and a return to Estuarine conditions (MPPM).


Bone bed (Channel 3aN) at the dig site, with the large fossils mainly consisting of the short necked giraffid Sivatherium hendeyi. Note the lack of orientation of the long bones and steep (southwesterly) dip of the channel base (in (A) towards viewer).

During the late 1950s an ankle bone of the Sivathere and a tooth of an extinct elephant were noted and since then major systematic palaeontology has developed at the site.    Mining ceased in 1993 and in 1996 some 34 acres (14 hectares) were declared a National Monument.  Later on a much larger area of 1730 acres (700 hectares) was established as a National Heritage Site.  Or, in more detail, what happened protection-wise is that the former National Monuments Council in 1996 declared the site a national monument there; and with the introduction of the National Heritage Resources Act in 2000 this became a provincial heritage site.  Then in March 2012 the provincial heritage resources authority, Heritage Western Cape significantly expanded the area that is protected to its present size.
The West Coast Fossil Park was established at the site of the abandoned Langebaanweg phosphate mine in 1994, and the mining company subsidized the start-up and operational costs until the park could become self-sustaining.   Systematic palaeontological excavation began in “E” quarry in 1998.   It was at Quarry E in the 1950s that they started finding fossils near the bottom of the main phosphate-rich deposit.   Dr. Brett Hendey was allowed to collect fossils from the park and excavate a few areas to record the stratigraphy.   Although the current collection of Langebaanweg fossils numbers over a million specimens, Hendey estimated that about 80 percent of the fossils from the mined layer was destroyed.  The two main fossil-bearing layers occur at the base of the thick Muishond Fontein Pelletal Phosphorite Member (MPPM) and in the underlying and thinner Langeberg Quartzose Sand Member (LQSM). The MPPM was heavily mined, but most of the fossils in the member probably represented a reworking of fossils from the white, sandy LQSM.

Prior to the current Park administration and more carefully controlled excavation, Brett Hendey excavated in 1976, right next to the excavation currently open to the public.  Hendey excavated in meter squares, leaving “witness sections” (of 1 meter square) every so often.   This was where Hendey found a near complete skeleton of the African bear  Agriotherium africanum ( which was the first known bear found in Africa south of the Sahara). 

As the area is excavated, mapped and sediment samples taken, the fossils are left in situ and incorporated into the public tourism area.   The only fossils removed from the excavated area in future will be ones of specially important scientific value.

Sivathere jaw (  an extinct group of long-horned, short-necked giraffids )

Fossils finds at this area include the African bear, an extinct seal and four extinct penguin species.   Other large mammals include sabre-toothed cats, two kinds of elephant, ancestors of the white rhino, wildebeest and giraffe, three-toed horses and antelope.

Links:  Wild Pigs / Aardvarks / Giraffes and Bovids / Hyenas / Hippos / Birds / Hipparion or Three-Toed Horse / Elephants / Micromammals / Antelope

In addition over 20 marine invertebrats are recorded, along with land-dwelling insects and snails, fish, frogs, reptiles, 85 bird species, etc.

Some of the snails

Under the new Park administration excavation resumed at Hendey’s site in 2008.   Three experienced excavators participated, namely Deano Stynder (Iziko SA Museum), Lloyd Rossouw (Bloemfontein National Museum), and Pippa Haarhoff (West Coast Fossil Park). We had three volunteers sorting material under the supervision of Albrecht Manegold (Forschung Institute, Germany).
The work focussed on an area in the LQSM sediments which lay between Hendeys MPPM witness sections, and an area of one-and-a-half square meters was excavated.   Finds included bovid horn-cores and the remains of hyena? coprolites associated with large bones.   During the course of the excavation, Lloyd Rossouw took soil samples for phytolith analysis and this report has been published in the South African Journal of Science (2009, Volume 105).

The in situ fossils seen in the covered excavation area.    ( Photos:  Gaelyn Olmsted )

Close-ups showing how the individual bones are left supported on pillars of sediment.


Tourists at the site.


Although the focus of the Fossil Park is on the Tertiary, there is also a Quaternary archzaeological site within the park boundaries.  This is the Anyskop Blowout.   Archaeological materials were first discovered in the late 1970s atop a prominent hill called Anyskop, located about one kilometre south of the famous fossil beds of Langebaanweg.   In 2001 and 2002 a team of researchers from the Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology of the University of Tübingen, Germany conducted extensive collections and detailed excavations of the archaeological sites atop Anyskop.   The archaeological remains collected here provide clear evidence that archaic and modern humans alike occupied this elevated setting during all of the South African archaeological periods, including the Earlier Stone Age (ESA), the Middle Stone Age (MSA) and the Later Stone Age (LSA).  The ESA at Anyskop is characterized by stone handaxes that are scattered across the landscape.  While these stone artefacts show no clear focus of human activities, they document the periodic use of this place by archaic humans about 500,000 years ago.  The MSA is marked by the more frequent occurrence of Still Bay bifacial tools and Howiesonspoort segments.  These types of stone tools were typically used by modern humans for hunting between 80,000 and 55,000 years ago.   At Anyskop, the LSA is characterised by numerous, small, microlithic stone tools that also show a focus on hunting activities between 8,000 and 1,000 years ago.   In addition, LSA hearths composed of burned stones show clear focal points of human activity where people camped and roasted food.



                …. a lovely and wondrous spot

Glimpsing the Jenolan Caves Limestone, and hole in the wall – the Grand Arch.  (Photo:  Ted Matthews, one of the Jenolan guides)

For a guide to materials  developed and made available by guide Ted Matthews, see –

[ See also THE JENOLAN GUIDE – a website by one of Jenolan’s guides, Rob Whyte, at ]

I have been interested in the Jenolan Caves area, and in the Silurian etc., since the 1960s and did my Hons. Thesis (Uni of NSW, Kensington) on an area south of the Caves, around Budthingeroo Creek, on the road to Kanangra Walls.   The Budthingeroo area has some clearings made when it was settled by members of the Whalan family.   Some Whalans are also shown below.   Besides being farmers primarily, they were also early associated with guiding people to both Jenolan Caves and Kanangra Walls.

This was made from the careful survey work of Oliver Trickett, 1915.  The large Devil’s Coachhouse is shown here by colouring (but is not labelled such) next to the Grand Arch.  Some “Holes from surface” are depicted to it, and the below photo is looking down one such onto the floor of the Devil’s Coachhouse,  where “McKeowns Creek” water may flow above ground level in times of flood.  Below is looking down into the Devil’s Coach House

Looking down on floor of the Devil’s Coachhouse from one of the openings in the roof.   ( Photo:  Bruce Welch)

Jenolan took the title of world’s oldest caves in 2006 and I think has not been displaced.

The descent of “Five mile hill” on the Jenolan Caves (Mount Victoria) Road.

 ( Noel Rawlinson collection, photographer Henry King. )

At Jenolan Caves, Grand Arch, ca. 1890(?).  L-R.: – Joseph Rowe, Jack Edwards, C.J. Whalan, Frederick Whalan, Fred Wilson, Jeremiah Wilson.  ( Photo: Henry King ; per Jenolan Caves Historical & Preservation Society ).  Jeremiah, the first distinguished keeper of the Jenolan Caves (earlier called Fish River Caves) would sadly be removed from his career there to Bathurst Gaol, found guilty of horse-stealing.   His son, Fred Wilson, seen seated on horse behind him, thereafter took over in as Keeper of the Caves.

The first Caves House.  The earliest accomodation was built (1880) and paid for by Wilson, but was lost to fire in 1895.  ( Photo:  Henry King )

The first grander Caves House that was erected for tourism in 1886.  Photo about 1895.   L – R Campbell Whalan 2nd, Herbert Whalan, unknown (but could be member of the Wilcox family), Frederick Whalan, his wife Edith Kate Whalan (nee Mutton), James Mutton, his wife Anne Mutton (nee Storey) parents of Edith Kate Whalan, Horatio Whalan, Roland Whalan, his wife Isabella Whalan (nee Ainsley), and unknown man.  Jeremiah Wilson is kneeling in front of the group.

Same site, about 1887.  Identified from enlargements – Jeremiah Wilson (on horse, tenth from left), Fred Wilson, ‘Assistant Keeper’ (on horse, eight from left), guides James Wiburd, Jack Edwards (on verandah, fifth and sixth from left) and labourer Robert Bailey (leaning on foundation pillar). 

As one emerges into the hidden/charming/tight valley after passing through the barrier/wall of the Jenolan Caves Limestone standing on-end (and slightly overturned) the Caves House dominates the view.   The little house at the left with the woman at the door and the ‘welcome’ mat out was Kerry’s photography kiosk.  It later on became the Ticket Office, and still later was demolished.  The Ticket Office nowadays is on the opposite side of the road to where it used to be.  Note that the hotel had been re-built/enlarged at the closest end between these photos.    (Photos of the Noel Rawlinson collection, per the Jenolan Caves Historical & Preservation Society; photo by Kerry Photos, Sydney.)

Detail of the re-building at Caves House (large stone/limestone building added at rear of the main wooden one.   Note the jagged facing edge of the front on the new wing, indicating that it was intended to later extend that eastwards.  What are the triangular frames at the right for? [see below].    ( Noel Rawlinson collection ) 

showing the main limestone building of Caves House some time a little later (ca. 1891).   In this photo the north-trending limestone behind the Caves House is visible.   It shows one of the common features of such, the north-dipping joints (the cause of which is unknown).  Also apparent is the less massively outcropping nature of a zone here at the top of the limestone.  This is because it contains a lot of interbedded shale.   Immediately beyond the Caves House, the top of the limestone crosses to the other side of the roadway.  ( Noel Rawlinson collection ) 

Looking up Camp valley Creek behind Caves House, ca. 1890.   This valley is aligned along the junction of the limestone and the volcanics.  There is more massive limestone to the east (towards Grand Arch).  To the right (west, and limestone base) shaley intervals occur in the limestone.  (Noel Rawlinson collection; Kerry photo.).

Snowing at the hut, Kanangra Road near Budthingeroo Creek,  in 1974.    (Photo:  NettyA)

This is the hut where I and my grandfather (Cecil Steiner) stayed.  It was regarded as probably the finest, or certainly one of the finest of the former habitations on the Boyd, or Kanangra-Boyd, plateau and which seemingly the NPWS obiterated almost all traces of (or so I’ve been told).   There was also discernable in the 1960s some much older ruins very close to Kanangra Walls which I was informed had been a house site many years earler.   ( Photo:  David Noble, 1973)   Others have referred to this as Budthingeroo hut, or as  “Whalan’s hut” (but it might long postdate any Whalans inhabiting the area?).  In 1890 Mr Campbell Whalan’s house was likely somewhere nearby.

Campbell Whalan’s house named “Upper Farm” at Budthingeroo Creek.   This was built in the late 1800s, and probably in the 1880s.  This photo, believed to have been taken in or around1915 is in the John Whitehouse collection.  Presumably it was located somewhere near the hut but I have been unable to find any traces of it.

Snow on the Kanangra Road in 1981.   ( Photo:  NettyA )

The below sketch section well enough summarises the sort of country you cross when travelling from Mount Victoria to Jenolan Caves:

The above figure is taken from near the commencement of a fine little six page geological guide for the 1923 Pan-Pacific Science Congress by S�ssmich.  That Guide-Book also contains notes on botany (by R.H. Cambage), the physical geography (by Professor Griffith Taylor),  and the zoology (by A.S. Le Souef) for along the route; plus some notes specifically on the Jenolan Caves themselves by Oliver Trickett and others.

This is the relatively “simple” first interpretation of Jenolan geology – that the ‘Western” (main or caves) limestone and the “Eastern” limestone were the same horizon and that they were disposed/connected in an anticline.

The overthrust fault (J) was inserted in the vertical section diagram most likely not because any thrust faulting was actually observed in the field but rather to accomodate or explain away a growing trend by some who were regarding the sediments west of the caves limestone as Ordovician.   S�ssmich’s 1923 diagram is clearly derived from 1896 work when David (1897) had summarised the knowledge of the Blue Mountains, with a secton from Jenolan Caves to the edge of the continental shelf, in a Presidential Address to the Royal Society of NSW. 

From David 1897

The initial reasons for regarding the sediments and volcanics west of the caves limestone as Ordovician (‘radiolarians’ and all the rest) are very weak.  Nonetheless, merely on general appearance I also regard them as Ordovician (I have seen a lot of Ordovician volcanics elsewhere in the State).  It is understood that Shannon (1976) may have gone into some detail on the relationship between the radio1arian chert, andesite, and a  1amprophyre, west of the caves limestone (but I have not seen this)..

 The caves limestone I have always regarded as overturned (steeply dipping yet only mildly overturned).  I have been told that north of the caves it may vary from steeply dipping (overturned) to vertical, and back again, over a relatively short distance.

E-W cross-sections by later Honours thesis students presented a much less simple picture than the simple anticline.  For example in the below vertical section through Jenolan Caves one would no longer suspect an anticline in the slightest. 

McClean (1983, Fig. 2.5).  Although the simple anticline had disappeared, McClean still retained the sequence of the western limb of the former concept, with the sequence younging west there (and no thrust fault). 

Although not the Blue Mountains as some would define it, the region is high and is a dissected plateau for much of
it.    Between Jenolan Caves and Kanagra Walls to the south, that plateau has the name of Boyd Plateau.    It is not as distinctly plateau like, however, as the Blue Mountains plateau is  … except perhaps where ‘onlapped’ by the
Permian strata (e.g. the “Kanangra tops”, which also used to be called the Thurat tops or plateau) – as seen below.

The elevated plateau or near-plateau (Boyd plateau and beyond), looking north from over Kanangra Walls.  In the foreground, at the end of Kanagra Walls Road the small ‘ peninsula’ seen here (called at one time Thurat plateau or later on sometimes called Kanangra Walls plateau or ‘tops’) juts out from the main plateau and is almost entirely surrounded by sheer drops.  On its northern side at the head of Kanangra River gorge are the Kanangra Falls and other spectacular waterfalls.   These plunge over Late Devonian (Lambian) quartzites.  The northern side is known as Thurat spines/spires. ( Photo: )

Same site, looking over the relatively gently undulating top of the tableland at Kanangra Walls, south of Jenolan Caves, showing encroaching arms of deep erosion along creeks draining to the Cox River.    The rocks at this point are inclined (folded) Late Devonian quartzites (Lambie Group) overlain by flat-lying Permian strata (with the white scar patches).   [Photo:  David Skeoch]

In this oblique aerial photo, there can be seen the the cliffs near the Blue Mountain towns at the upper right; and the granitic Kanimblan valley is seen below the horizon to left of centre.   The Permian is also well seen here, in the foreground (as Kanangra Walls “tops”).   It is horizontal whereas the opposite side of the Kanangra gorge here is composed of dipping Late Devonian (Lambian) strata, largely quartzite beds. 

In this view the dip of the Lambian quartzites may not seem to be all that far off horizontal, yet views from the north towards Kanangra Walls show very well that there is an angular unconformity present.

Some more views in the vicinity of this gorge are given below, to show that the Later Devonian strata really do deviate extensively from the horizontal. 

Note that much of the Kanangra-Boyd plateau is somewhat above the level of the cliff forming Permian strata (and
also that there is a higher level in the far distance).  Of the rise to the right, northwards, compare with the term ‘Dome’ used by some for the Boyd plateau.  Craft (1928) recognised a “Jenolan Plateau” which is a somewhat confusing entity though in its full extent, as he also stated it stretched north from this Kanangra Walls-Porter’s Retreat area to Sunny Corner and beyond. 

The falls in the outlined box are shown close-up in next photo.

Close up of Kanangra Falls first (main) plunge.  Rocks are Late Devonian (Lambian) orthoquartzite beds   ( Photo:  David Noble) 

For MORE by myself:


There are many publications on Jenolan, and one discussion list, viz.:

In addition to many books as at jenolan-caves-books.htm, another one “Jenolan Caves – Nature’s Hidden Wonder” has been recently completed by Mark Hallinan which covers all aspects, and is expected to be soon announced via  [… has been announced as below.]


Jenolan Caves : nature’s hidden wonder / Mark Hallinan.pages.

AN: 51711012

ISBN: 978098588906 (hardback)
Available from: PO Box 8166 Woolloongabba QLD 4102
ANL eng rda ANL contributed cataloguing
994.45 23
Hallinan, Mark, author.
CIP entry.  Projected publication date: 2013/12

( )


THERE ARE ALSO MANY OTHER LIMESTONE AND CAVE AREAS IN NSW – In mid 2014 a lethal threat (from a proposed dam) arose to one of those.   This is the CLIEFDEN CAVES.

To see more about the caves, and the threat – go to:

Rocky Glen, central Illinois – geoheritage


“It’s a record of the geology 300 million years ago, it’s a record of the coal miners and their strife 100 years ago, and it ties all that together. I think the coal mining history of Peoria is lost to the latest generation” (Ed Stermer).


The friends of Rocky Glen have been working hard to preserve this land as a public geoheritage site.

This then is a story of how a local group were SUCCESSFUL in persuading their City to secure 70 acres as a geoheritage site.  [For more information on this place, which I first heard of only quite recently, please contact the Friends of Rocky Glen – web: ; email: ◾ ]

This is what one would like to see more of – and around where I live, in Sydney, Australia, very many of the geological sites have been lost already to increasing development over the last two decades.

A summary of the geological and mining history at Rocky Glen is:

* Rocky Glen is a 70-acre property located near Peoria, Illinois, containing a box canyon with walls of sandstones and shales, two seasonal waterfalls, rare vegetation growth, and an abandoned coal mine shaft.

* Bedrock in the Peoria area is Late Carboniferous, Pennsylvanian, in age and was deposited in a coal swamp, delta environment.

* The 65-foot high sandstone canyon walls at Rocky Glen are the major bedrock exposure in the region.

*  This sandstone was most likely deposited as part of a river channel as evidenced by small scale cross-bedding and other sedimentary structures.

*  At the base of the cliff walls sandstone is seen an erosional contact with sandy shale.

*  About 50 feet beneath the property lies a 5 foot coal seam named the Springfield Coal.   This seam was actively mined from 1908 – 1922, and one mine incline entrance is still visible on the property.

* Groooved into the sandstone bedrock are names thought to be of coal miners who may have secretly met at Rocky Glen to organize the first local labour unions in the early 1900s.

* Erosion out of the Glen itself probably occurred about 18,000 years ago, due to flood waters from the melting ice at the end of the Wisconsin glaciation.  Before that time, the Rocky Glen property probably had just a few small streams and valleys but no bedrock canyons and waterfalls.

*  As glaciers melted and retreated northward, they deposited a mound of sand and gravel that blocked the flow of Kickapoo Creek, a large stream which flows just to the east of the Rocky Glen property.   Soon after, enormous volumes of glacial melt water backed up behind this sediment dam forming a narrow lake that would have extended some miles northwest of Rocky Glen.  Eventually the lake waters burst through the sediment dam, sending a torrent of water southward carving out a bedrock gorge along Kickapoo Creek.  These floodwaters may also have rushed up the Rocky Glen valley and scoured out main canyon.   Traces of the pre-existing creeks and land surface are now left hanging high above the canyon floor.  ( Ed Stermer [ Earth Science Teaching Chair, Professor of  Geology, Illinois Central College] who has been interpreting the past of Rocky Glen believes that the more than 70 feet of bedrock seen there could have been exposed by this process in “just a moment of geologic time” – pers. comm. November 2013).
At their website ( ), the Friends of Rocky Glen set out to publicise about the natural and cultural history (mining, picnicking etc.) of Rocky Glen, along with the story of their our efforts to secure and preserve this property.

There is also a 2013 magazine article “Of Land & Time Remembered – Stories of Rocky Glen” by Jonathan Wright ( ) which shows that effort to preserve this place extend back to the 1930s:  ” ‘I’m willing to bet that most boys who grew up in Bartonville or on the South Side through the 1950s had visited, or at least heard stories of Rocky Glen,’ says Marilyn Leyland, for whom the location is a family affair.  ‘Manual High School biology students went there on field trips in the 1930s, and probably told subsequent generations about it, or, like my dad, took their kids there.  My Girl Scout troop went there for a hike in the ‘50s when a classmate’s grandfather owned the property.  The noted botanist Irene Cull was with us, explaining plants along the way.  Meanwhile, my classmate kept urging friends to hurry up because she couldn’t wait to show everyone the big rock!’   Leyland’s grandfather, John Voss, taught science and was later principal at Manual. He was active in the Peoria Academy of Science, which campaigned to preserve Rocky Glen as a public park as far back as the 1930s”.

At the Geological Society of America annual meeting at Denver in October 2012, there was a session about the preservation of geologically interesting places.

There Edward Stermer presented a talk about the “rediscovery” and preservation of Peoria’s Rocky Glen.

When Stermer went to Peoria to teach, he kept hearing about a place named Rocky Glen where everyone used to go in the past but seemed to have become forgotten about.

Stermer discovered that although the City of Peoria had established “Rocky Glen Park”, they had actually purchased the wrong piece of property!   When he tracked down the correct location of “Rocky Glen” he learned that it had a rich as a coal mine and mine union organizing site.

Stermer helped start the Friends of Rocky Glen, to secure the correct property, which the City finally did.

Here is how they described Ed’s trip to Denver before the event, at Peoria:


Professor Ed Stermer of Illinois Central College’s Math, Science and Engineering Department will introduce Rocky Glen to the 125th meeting of the Geological Society of America, in Denver, Colo. on Oct. 27-30.    Stermer describes Rocky Glen as a geoheritage site, with significant history and geology of interest to the world.


And here is the abstract of what Ed said at the Denver meeting:



STERMER, Edward G.,  Illinois Central College, Math, Science and Engineering Department, East Peoria, IL 61635-0001,

Rocky Glen is a 70-acre property located near Peoria, Illinois, containing a box canyon with walls of Pennsylvanian-aged sandstones and shales, two seasonal waterfalls, rare vegetation growth, and an abandoned coal mine shaft.

The 65-foot canyon walls are the largest outcropping of bedrock in the region.   Etched into the sandstone bedrock are the names of coal miners who secretly met at Rocky Glen to organize the first local labor unions in the early 1900s.

Recognizing the aesthetic, historical, and scientific significance of this “geohertitage” site, a group of local citizens formed the Friends of Rocky Glen (FORG) to help raise community awareness and to work to preserve the land as a public park.

Permission was granted by the landowner for FORG to conduct monthly educational hikes for the general public, and a web site was created to disseminate information.

The geoeducation component was divided into three parts: 1) the rock and fossil evidence for ancient coal swamps; 2) the role of glacial deposition and melt water flooding in the formation of the canyon; and, 3) the significance of coal mining in the cultural and economic history of the region.

During the educational hikes, special emphasis was placed on how the geologic story of Rocky Glen connected with the participants’ life experiences (e.g. ancestors who were coal miners, local underground mine subsidence problems, regional groundwater issues, similar rocks and fossils found on their property, etc.).

The beautiful natural setting also offered an opportunity for concepts such as the geologic time scale and plate tectonics to be introduced to the public in a non-intimidating, relevant manner.

As a result of this educational awareness campaign and the tireless efforts of FORG working with the land owner and the local government, the City of Peoria purchased the property in 2012. Plans are currently underway to create a park with an interpretive trail.

Session No. 318
T122.  Geoheritage and Sense of Place in the Context of Earth Science Education

Wednesday, 30 October 2013: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
Colorado Convention Center Room 403
Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 45, No. 7, p.731 )


Truck used to haul coal from the Rocky Glen area in the 1920s.
(Photo per Jim and Florence Eaton)

The Rocky Glen mine entrances are at the eastern edge of the Crescent Mine area.

There is an estimated 50+ miles of tunnels in the Crescent Mine area.  The mining was by bord and pillar method.

Note Horsehoe Bottoms to the east.   A novel by Bill Knight called “Horseshoe Bottoms” includes about coal mining and Rocky Glen.    The last coal mining in the district was in 1957.   The other old mine sh0wn on the map above is the Wantling mine.

In Peoria County as a whole there were over 650 former mine sites.

Some of the carvings appear to be union insignia at Rocky Glen.    Most prominent is a hand that rises out of a crack and has some sort of card in its grip, with what appear to be the letters “A-M-A”.   This may mean the American Mining Association (first active in the 1860s).  [In top picture see hand to the right of the boy.]

By Dave Pittman, the president of the Friends of Rocky Glen:

“Consider for a moment what these miner’s endured in such tough working conditions.  They worked before dawn until after dark, 6 days a week.  Their poverty was far worse than anything I have ever known, and I grew up in a poor rural area in western Colorado where money was very hard to come by.  I think part of my own motivation for this natural area purchase is to create some recognition of  this sacrifice made by people now nearly forgotten.  The carved pictures and initials in the rock are something greater than unique art.  For people who had nothing, the notion of a union was the notion of hope for a better future for their children.

“Coal is a powerful source of energy but the price we have paid is very very great.   Even as I devote so many hours of my life to the day we no longer pollute the world with coal, I hope we can celebrate the coal miners ……” ( ).

Dave Pittman’s connection with the Glen began about a decade ago when he stumbled upon mention of it:  “In the 1970s, the State of Illinois created the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory, and biologists mapped out these areas… When I looked up the list of areas in Peoria County, I saw [Rocky Glen], and it had kind of a map.”

It was love at first sight for the West Peoria resident and former Peoria Park District trustee.   Several years ago, Pittman formed the Friends of Rocky Glen to bring attention to this neglected gem:  “I had known the landowner… and gotten permission to walk on his property,” he says. “And he gave [us] permission to start leading hikes.”

That was in late 2010 and the owner was looking to sell the land.  The Friends group approached the Peoria Park District, who in turn led them to the City Council, which had the power to access grant money from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources which could be used to buy natural area land.   In December 2012, the Peoria City Council voted 9-2 to purchase the 70 acres surrounding Rocky Glen.

The following three articles in the local newspaper trace this upsurge of interest in Rocky Glen, promoted by the Friends, and its purchase for preservation via the City council.

From the Journal Star.

  • Heartland: A forgotten property  called Rocky Glen

  •  “And  what have you figured out?” he said to Evans as he pulled the cork out of the  oil jug. “I dunno,” the timber man said. “It’s nothing likely, but we might as well go around to Rocky Glen on Sunday. We won’t be seen from there.” “I  thought of the Glen,”…
  • By Scott Hilyard

    Updated Aug. 16,  2010 @ 3:04 pm
DAVID ZALAZNIK/JOURNAL STAR |   Hiker  Dave Alexander talks about the canopy of trees sheltering the creek bed running  through Rocky Glen off of Kickapoo Creek Road in West Peoria. Pausing in the  creek bed in the background is environmentalist David Pittman.

“And what have you figured out?” he said to Evans as he pulled the  cork out of the oil jug.

“I dunno,” the timber man said. “It’s nothing likely, but we might  as well go around to Rocky Glen on Sunday. We won’t be seen from  there.”

“I thought of the Glen,” Haywood said as he filled his lamp. “I  thought of it that time you had the picnic there.  It was my first week here,  five years back. Do you recall?”

“I recall,” Evans answered.

The two men returned to their work, one to his timbers, the other to  his pick, and very soon the sound of their labor bouncing off their tools was scooped up in the underground symphony of the coal mine

[The above is] From “Horse Shoe Bottoms,” a novel about coal mining in central  Illinois by Tom Tippett, 1935.

Standing in Rocky Glen in West Peoria on a hot, steamy summer  morning feels like standing at the bottom of a life-sized  terrarium.

You’re in a bowl surrounded on three sides by 70-foot limestone  walls and on the fourth side by the trees and lush vegetation you tromped through for a half-mile to get there.

“It’s like a mini-Starved Rock,” said Mike Miller, the supervisor of  environmental services for the Peoria Park District who first visited Rocky Glen on a sixth grade science field trip.  “Right here in Peoria County”.

A canopy of trees that angle over the edge at the top of the canyon  cuts off most of the direct sunlight.  The ground beneath your feet is a cushion  of dead leaves, packed mud and fallen, decomposing trees. It is an earthy,  sweaty place, that’s rich with ferns and moss-covered rock. When your hiking  companions fall silent, the only sounds are the trickle of water over rock and  the buzz and chirp of insects and birds.

“Rocky Glen is a geological marvel,” said David Pittman, a West  Peoria resident, environmental activist and the leader of a recent hike to the  hidden treasure of exposed bedrock. “Totally unique.  Thousands of Peorians in  the last 20 years of the 19th century and the first 50 years of the 20th century  came to this place.   Many carved their names, some carved pictures in the  limestone.   For the last 50 years only a few people have come to Rocky Glen but this unique natural area with its seasonal waterfalls, mosses and lichens that cover some of the hundreds of human carvings remains as magical as  ever.”

Rocky Glen is located inside the triangle formed by the intersection  of Farmington and Kickapoo Creek roads. The property was one of several in the  area recently annexed into the city of West Peoria. Peorian Harold Connaughton bought the 94-acre parcel in 1954. When Harold Connaughton died in 1997 his son,  Jim Connaughton, inherited the land.

Read more:



From the Journal Star.  

    • Hearing elicits opinions on fate  of Rocky Glen nature site

By Nick Vlahos

Rocky Glen isn’t exactly Rocky Balboa or Rocky Marciano, as Jim Spears  noticed.
  • “They’d say, ‘We’re holding a fundraiser for Rocky Glen,’ and people would  think it’s a person,” the owner of Jimmy’s Bar in West Peoria said. “You know,  ‘What happened to Rocky?'”
  • Illinois Central College earth science professor Ed Stermer, right, explains the geological forces that formed Rocky Glen along Kickapoo Creek Road in West Peoria to members of Bradley University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute during a May outing.
  • DAVID ZALAZNIK/JOURNAL STAR |  Illinois  Central College earth science professor Ed Stermer, right, explains the  geological forces that formed Rocky Glen along Kickapoo Creek Road in West  Peoria to members of Bradley University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute  during a May outing.

What might happen to Rocky Glen – in this case, a nature site in  West Peoria – was a topic of interest late Wednesday afternoon at City  Hall.

Spears and about two dozen others packed a fourth-floor meeting room  during a hearing designed to elicit public opinion about whether the city of  Peoria should buy the site of 70-plus acres.

The final decision is up to the City Council, which is expected to  debate the plan during its meeting Dec. 11. If the sentiment Wednesday was any  harbinger, purchase would win by knockout.

“If it does get purchased, it will be a public treasure,” said David  Pittman, president of Friends of Rocky Glen, a not-for-profit group dedicated to  the site’s preservation.

Pittman was among nine who spoke publicly during the hearing, which  lasted less than 30 minutes. All the speakers appeared to support municipal  purchase

Susan Schlupp, a city senior development specialist, produced  multiple letters of praise. Included were testimonials from state Sen. Dave  Koehler and state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, both Peoria Democrats.

“It’s heartening to be involved in something with such broad-based  support,” Friends of Rocky Glen member Rick Fox said.

The city would use Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant  money to pay for Rocky Glen, located along Kickapoo Creek Road.   The asking price  of the owner, Jim Connaughton, is at least $200,000.

The site includes limestone cliffs, forests and rare vegetation and  other features. Ed Stermer, an Illinois Central College professor of earth  sciences, said Rocky Glen is the only large-scale box canyon in central  Illinois.

“Preserved in that sandstone is what Peoria looked like 300 million  years ago,” Stermer said. “It’s an amazing, unique geological  place.”

Schlupp isn’t sure how the council might vote: “I really would like  to see it happen. I’m hoping everything goes smoothly from here on  out.”

According to Connaughton, everything went more than smoothly  Wednesday.

“There have been so many maybes, could-bes, should-bes.   I was kind  of down,” said Connaughton, whose family has owned the property since 1954 and  who for years has been trying to sell it.

“But this sounds good. It looks better than it has in a long  time.”

Nick Vlahos can be reached at 686-3285 or  Follow him on Twitter  @VlahosNick.

Read more:



From the Journal Star.

  • Peoria City Council approves  purchase of Rocky Glen nature area

Approval of the city’s purchase of the Rocky Glen nature area turned out to  be relatively smooth

  • Peoria,

    Updated Dec. 12,  2012 @ 11:05 am

    By a 9-2 vote Tuesday night, during its only regular meeting in  December, the City Council agreed to purchase the plot of West Peoria property that features 70-foot limestone cliffs and unique flora and fauna.

    The property owner, Jim Connaughton, is selling it to the city for $230,000.  The money came from a longstanding grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources

    Connaughton had been trying for years to sell the difficult-to-access land, located near Kickapoo Creek Road south of Farmington  Road.

“Maybe this opens up a window and people realize this place is in their backyard where they can spend some quality time,” Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis  said.

The city is expected to improve access to the site.   Friends of Rocky Glen, a not-for-profit group, has been conducting semi-regular hikes through the property of more than 66 acres.

Following the council’s vote, and while the meeting was in progress, Friends of Rocky Glen President David Pittman issued a celebratory news release.

“Rocky Glen will provide open space for an underserved part of the city, expand outdoor education opportunities for nearby District 150 schools and  safeguard a piece of Peoria history,” the news release stated. “This purchase  truly serves all Peorians well.”

The Department of Natural Resources grant dates from the early 1980s  and was intended to acquire and preserve open land along the Illinois River.  After the RiverPlex Recreation and Wellness Center was constructed, that  riverfront property was replaced by a Southtown plot.

That land was sold in 2007 for construction of a health care  facility, and the city had been looking for a suitable replacement ever since.

At-large Councilman Gary Sandberg praised Rocky Glen but wasn’t sure  the purchase of land located in West Peoria was in the city’s best interest.   He voted no, as did at-large colleague Beth Akeson.

Nick Vlahos can be reached at 686-3285 or  Follow him on Twitter @VlahosNick

Read more:


Some palaeontologists



Esperanza García Ortiz de Landaluce (Ph.D. 2008- …):  She is studying dinosaurs behavior analysing their tracks, as well as applying GIS technologies in the field of dinosaurs paleichnology and paleontological heritage. She is currently doing her Ph. D. about the dinosaurs footprints from La Rioja area of Cameros Basin (Spain).

One of Esperanza’s supervisors is Esperanza M. Fernández-Martínez (viz. below).

“””” Webpage – “”””
University of León – Universidad de León, Geography and Geology, PhD student in Paleontology

Research Interests: –  Dinosaur Behaviour, Dinosaur Footprints, Dinosaur Tracks, gvSIG, Dinosaur trackways, Paleontology, Geological Heritage, Dinosaur Paleontology, Social behavior in animals, Earth Sciences, Palaeontological Heritage, Animal Behavior, Ethology, GIS, Archaeology, and Cuiltural Heritage

About: –  I obtained my Biology Degree from the University of León in 2007. Since 2007 I am doing my PhD at the University of León under the title “Dinosaur paleoichnological sites of the Cameros Basin area (N of Spain): population analysis and the aplication of new GIS technologies. Rating and paleontological heritage diagnosis” under the supervision of Dr. Félix Pérez-Lorente, Dra. Esperanza Fernández-Martínez and Dr. José Ramón Rodríguez Pérez.

Book: – Los fósiles urbanos de León. Recorridos paleontológicos desde el campus de Vegazana hasta el Albéitar

“Castaño de Luis, R.(Coord.), García Ortiz de Landaluce, E., García Parada, L., Molero Guerra, J. y Fernández-Martínez, E. 2011. Fósiles urbanos de León. Recorridos paleontológicos desde el Campus de Vegazana hasta el Albéitar. Oficina Verde, Universidad de León, 64 pp. (In Spanish)” [ Deals with: Paleontology, Cultural Heritage Management, Paleontological Heritage, and Geological Heritage. ]

Download this book (.pdf) –


Talk: –  “Diez años de paseo con los fósiles urbanos en León” (Concerns ….  Popular Science, Geoheritage, Paleontological Heritage, Urban Fossils, and Paleontological Routes.)

a) Guided excursion with students from the “Universidad de la Experiencia”.

b) Eocene equinoids in paving stone next to the León Museum.

c) Group around a goniatitid at San Isidoro Square.

Download the talk (.pdf) –




Esperanza M. Fernández-Martínez.  Palaeontology Professor, University of Leon, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Campus of Vegazana s/n, 24171 Leon,  Spain, Email:  (Website: )

Research Interests

  • Systematics and Palaeoecology of Tabulate Corals
  • Palaeoecology and Evolution of Palaeozoic Reefs
  • Carbonate Systems
  • Ecosystem response to catastrophic environmental change
  • Bio- and Geoevents


  • 1993 PhD in Palaeontology, University of Oviedo, Spain
  • 1985 BSc Honours in Geology, University of Oviedo, Spain

Edward Powell, Free Settler of Liberty Plains (Homebush)

Summary – Edward Powell was one for the first free settlers, who established the small settlement or group of grants known as Liberty Plains (between present-day Homebush and Strathfield Stations.   He was one of the very few to persist there.

Story – Liberty Plains was established south of Homebush Bay, as a number of grants fronting a creek which is nowadays called Powell’s Creek, and it was hoped to grow into a centre of agriculture able to supply fresh produce to both Sydney town and Rose Hill (Parramatta) which it was about half way between.

However the soil is not as favourable as at many other places and the settlers before very long all departed.   The Powells, like others, went to the Hawkesbury but did later return and successfully ran an inn on Parramatta Road just west of Powell’s Creek.   Edward as well as their first daughter were buried behind that inn.   A tombstone very close to the eastern end of Homebush Railway Station was noted by railway travellers for a long time but what happened to it is still untraced (the area today, Station Street, being one of every-increasing highrise).   The grave might have been destroyed by highrise or other later building, or it might still be there today under bitumen or paving surface.

A project has been running (which anyone is invited to join) which aims at trying to locate Edward’s grave – and also to have the local Council acknowledge (with signage etc.) these early but locally forgotten settlers.   The name of the Powells’ farm grant (which was where Homebush station and shopping centre are now) was “Dorset Green”.

Before coming to Sydney as a Free Settler, Edward Powell had been here before – as a seaman on a convict transporter carrying female prisoners (convicts) to Sydney.   One of the latter persons, Sarah Dorset, became pregnant to him and had a child at sea.  The baby was christened as Edward Dorset Powell very soon after the ship reached Sydney.   Edward was obliged to sail on with the ship, leaving Sarah and baby behind.   It is assumed, but not known for sure, that when he responded to the English Government’s call for free settlers (who would be encouraged with land, seed, tools, etc.) he did so in order to get back to Sarah and Edward jnr.

Unknown to him, however, they were not here – for the government had actually moved them to Norfolk Island not long after Edward had first sailed away from Sydney Cove.

Read more at:

King’s Tableland (added at Community Heritage)


Added this today to Community Heritage website at:

Summary – King’s Tableland is a place with outstanding natural heritage, historic and indigenous interests.  From the work of Eugene Stockton it has yielded the so far oldest known habitation date for the Blue Mountains.

Address – Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Story – King’s Tableland is a long tableland extending south from near Wentworth Falls.   Excellent views are obtained from the very easily reached King’s Table and Flat Rock lookouts.   The western edge of this tableland, known as Kedumba Walls might have been reached by the three explorers party (Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson – on 22 May 1813) but this matter is still an unsettled postulation.

[ More: ]


To readily add/see places between Wentworth Falls and Strathfield:

1)  Go to

2)  Then via the tags at left of the interactive Google Earth view select “Places”  (you can zoom in or out but for the moment there are not very many places added.

Places are shown by the teardrops … click on each teardrop and you’ll get any info recorded so far (at Community Heritage) come up in summary at the lower right corner (you can from there go to the full post on each .. sometimes not much, sometimes stories about the places).

Now moving eastwards from Wentworth Falls there is nothing yet added for the rest of the Blue Mountains plateau and the next site you’ll find entered is the Arms of Australia Inn at Emu Plains:


This was an inn on the road to Bathurst via Emu Plains and after it was an inn it was then divided into leased partitioned segments, rooms or tiny homes – and someone related to me lived there once (quite a long time back).   Today it is a museum.

You can then drag across more on Google Earth and you’ll see there is nothing more entered before getting to Strathfield, and indeed nothing more has been entered even for the City of Sydney.

That of course needs to be rectified and I am thinking to next add the MINING MUSEUM ( ) which is definitely heritage.



Interested in the sharing of information about interesting sites ( concerning the past – history/heritage – and the natural environment, especially geological ) .

Concerned with ways of gathering, storing and re-using information in snippet form from wherever it arises or can be found.   In that regard, is associated with my storage of snippets ALPHABETICALLY according to place name, as shown at

Based in Sydney, Australia, and the places information gathered has tended to be  concentrated thereabouts.


Jenolan Caves and the “Parastriatopora project”

To join Project Parastriatopora write to me at  (… there are varied small tasks can be shared.  The project started in 2009; and progress has been quite slow – there being very few people yet aware of Parastriatopora in our Silurian).

The project seeks to document an apparent occurrence of in situ boundstone of the common Silurian “staghorn” type coral species, which usually is found not in situ (as packstone). 

Back to the Silurian (or back to JC/Jenolan Caves) :   We are born into the world as if from nowhere, in a birth we cannot remember; and if as adults we then ask how did this big old world itself arise, and change, we may find that its origin, too, is far from clear .. This could investigate one tiny patch of Silurian seabed. 


 Glimpsing the Jenolan Caves Limestone, and hole in the wall – the Grand Arch.  (Photo:  Ted Matthews)

A long time ago, hundreds of millions of years ago, accumulating calcium carbonate beds from broken up shelly fossils lay flat on the sea floor.   Now, due to ‘tectonic forces’ (whatever that means – try Wikipedia) this sea floor now stands vertical, and faces the traveller from Sydney or the Blue Mountains, like an ‘impenetrable’ vertical wall.   But it is not impenetrable.  Far from it, as right through the wall runs a hole (Grand Arch) worn by former stream flow.   Beyond that passage which worms through the wall (and takes human and car traffic) is a cute little secluded valley.   In the valley sits Caves House, and on a busy day lthere are ots of tourists about, and tour guides – all there to  see the caves.  Winding up the far side of the valley one can soon come to the western or stratigraphically lower surface of the limestone formation.  Here the Silurian limestone overlies Ordovician rocks.   And here also, near the base of the limestone there occurs what we are calling the ‘Parastriatopora bed’.   It is rich is the remains of mainly one single species of branching coral – identified for the moment as the genus Parastriatopora.   Unlike many Parastriatopora beds which have the branch fragments very broken up, and rolled into subparallel alignment, the branching coral in this bed is believed to be the preserved bases of a corals in a  thicket or patch reef, and that the stone is boundstone.   Recognising that is, in a nutshell, what this project is about but it remains to “prove it is so”.


Jenolan Caves is a lovely spot where one could readily spend days or weeks exploring, but the present webpage concentrates on only one small spot – at the end of Burmah Road, near the house occupied by guide Ted Matthews who drew this locality to notice.    Here, at or very close to the base of the Jenolan Caves Limestone, the weathered limestone surface as seen above consists largely of Parastriatopora.   This is a very abundant coral species in NSW Silurian limestones but typically it occurs as accumulations of subparallel-aligned small finger sized fragments that clearly have been transported to some degree.   Here, at the end of Burmah Road, the diverse angles between the axes, and other features like apparent overgrowth encrustations (at might be expected near coralla bases) all suggest that this might be an in situ preservation of a coral thicket of this species.   Thin sections that revealed the coral to be set in coralgal (‘hard’) micrite rather than detrital sediment added to this belief.    Example of the very much more common (packstone) transported occurrence of the species is show below.   To date the only (other) place know where Parastriatopora is recorded as in situ coralla is in the Silurian of SW Ireland.

A typical occurrence of Paratriatopora in the NSW Silurian limestones is as concentrations, sometimes nearing monospecific, of broken fragments which are deemed to be packstones.   This example is from the Narragal Limestone between Neurea and Dripstone, Wellington district.  The micritic Narragal Limestone typically has a mottled appearances, with the yellow-brown areas heavily charged with silt-sized dolomite crystals, and the grey area being biomicrite free of such.   


Pleistocene limestone of staghorn coral (Acropora) rubble.  San Salvador Island, Bahamas.

( Photo: James St. John )


 For more – go to 

Dunham classes – This classification is a way of describing the composition of calcareous rocks in hand sample. For descriptions detailing the textural components of sediments and sedimentary rocks, as in thin section, the Folk classification is generally preferred – both are equally valid methods of classification with different emphases.

Currently ( November 2012) Wikipedia is showing some other further ‘refinements’ as below – however the boundstone/bindstone distinction is not bothered with here (were it followed then the Parastriatopora bed of interest at Jenolan Caves could likely be termed “bindstone” at least in part).

  • Mudstone contains less than 10% grains (usually assessed by area in cut or thin section), supported by a lime mud.
  • Wackestone consists of more than 10% grains, supported by a lime mud.
  • Packstone contains lime mud and is grain supported.
  • Rudstone is coarse limestones supported by grains larger than 2 mm.
  • Grainstone lacks mud and is grain supported.
  • Floatstone contains over 10% >2mm grains but is matrix supported
  • Boundstone describes sediment where the original components have been bound together after deposition.
  • Bafflestone develops where organisms have acted as baffles during deposition, reducing the local depositional energy. They will contain traces of baffling organism and smaller grains that would be expected from the paleocurrent strength.
  • Bindstone is produced where organisms (such as algae) encrust the elements during deposition and bind them together.
  • Framestone is a solid calcareous or siliceous framework which is maintained by an organism such as a coral or sponge.
  • Crystalline carbonate does not have recognisable depositional structures.


Other tabulate corals (and also Amphipora stromatoporoids) also commonly form packstones in our Palaeozoic limestones, and this one is one formed of Cladopora, from the Devonian near Yass.

Boundstone.   Besides encrusting species the intervening ‘matrix’ is often of algal microtexture or shows other evidence of hardness (was not soft mud).  

( Triassic of northern Italy, near Rifugio Dibona.  Composed mostly of calcareous sponges – )

Typical mesoscopic appearance of algal boundstone and some coralla in the Jenolan Caves Parastriatopora bed of interest appear to have their bases in such.

 Heavy growth of calcareous algae ( Porolithon ) at Rose Atoll, American Samoa.   ( Photo:  Phillip Colla )

 Mixed corals and calcareous/coralline algae, at Gota Abu Ramada, Red Sea, Egypt.   ( Photo:  Derek Keats )


At Jenolan Caves – commenced 2010

Present involvement:  Ted Mattews, Gary Dargan, John Byrnes

This is a project to consider a particularly nice bed of Silurian corals found by caves guide Ted Matthews.  The corals were initially displayed by Ted at some talks held on the past at Castlereagh in 2009, where they greatly interested the organiser of the talks day, John Byrnes.   The project then got underway in 2010, with Gary Dargan (a fossil coral specialist) making some thin sections from the bed.   These thin sections amply confirmed the macroscopic diagnosis (or at least strong suspicion) that this is boundstone bed.   It is thought that beds like this are the preserved bases of Silurian branching coral shoals not all that unlike what might be seen today on the Great Barrier Reef or elsewhere.   Life in the Silurian had its ups and downs (eustatic sealevel changes) to contend with – just like life today.    A recent survey (FASTS, 2010)  found that a third of  Australians believe humans and dinosaurs co-existed (33%), and that evolution has ended (29%).   Not so, change and evolution continue – just like in the Silurian.   Jenolan Caves is an old and hallowed place, and a good place to ponder more on these things (no dinosaurs there but there is the Diprotodon). 

To find out more about Project Parastriatorpora, or maybe join/assist it .. contact John Byrnes, john.mail “at”

 This is not the guide Ted Matthews (see about Ted, and various materials available from Ted – here), but rather an earlier caretaker and guide at the Jenolan Caves named James C. Wiburd (who worked there 1903 to1932).   He is one of many who have worked in  various ways to make better known and accessible the wonders at Jenolan.   Varied scientific studies and investigations have been carried out at Jenolan over a long time, and in recent times the caves gained much fame following a publication suggesting they are the oldest tourist-sized caves in the world (of inferred Carboniferous origin, within a limestone of Silurian age.   The  ‘mysteries’ of Jenolan are no doubt not fully known and will continue to unravel.   There is an opt-in JC discussion group (largely discussing things about caving) found via

And a little east, off Burma Road, lies the Parastriatopora

boundstone bed.

(  It is in the basal part of the Silurian Jenolan Caves Limestone.  )

Location of Jenolan Caves (lower left), and the route to there from Sydney

The Jenolan Caves Limestone is probably the best known (or ‘known about’) limestone in the State, on account of it containing the Jenolan Caves which are a major tourist destination and are which are now being widely referred to as the oldest passageable caves in the world.   Although the limestone is widely known about, it’s petrography, palaeontology and depositional environments (related to palaeogeography) still has not been systematically studied.   

How little the geology of Jenolan Caves vicinity is known, or agreed upon, will be evident upon reading the literature.   Various accounts of the geology may be quite irreconcilable.   For example Lishmund et al. (1986, p. 17) wrote “West of (stratigraphically below) the limestone belt, the sediments are thought to be of Silurian age because of their similarity to Silurian sediments elsewhere within the zone, notably those of the Kildrummie Formation.  These rocks are overlain, possibly unconformably, by the Jenolan Caves Limestone which is in turn overlain (probably conformably) by a sequence of sediments which probably range to Early Devonian in age”.    What Lishmund et al. meant by “elsewhere within the zone” should be clear enough, as they divided the State’s limestone deposits into zones, putting the Jenolan Caves Limestone within the “Captains Flat-Goulburn Synclinorial Zone”.  The Kildrummie Formation referred to includes the Abercrombie Caves Limestone.  However, regional metamorphism is so advanced in most Kildrummie it is hard to imagine what ‘similarity’ of features anyone could have been thinking of for such a comparison to have been suggested.   Unfortunately insufficient detail is given for knowing that, and also exactly who it was that ever ‘thought’ the sediments below the Jenolan Caves Limestone to be of Silurian age is not made clear either (the publication is by three authors – none of whom are known to have studied Jenolan and so they were probably quoting somebody else but did not record who).   Possibly they are quoting from Leonie Chalker (1971) (this is still to be checked).  Earlier writers (e.g. see geological map by C. A. Sussmilch) all considered that the rocks west of the Jenolan Caves Limestone are Ordovician.  Some sort of marked break between those and the Jenolan Caves Limestone was thought to be present by early observers.   Some thought an angular unconformity is likely present; others thought the junction might be a fault or overthust (the western folded Ordovician rocks thrust east over the Jenolan Caves Limestone which itself is overturned slightly and dips steeply west.  In the  radiolarian cherts mapped by Sussmilch  one of us (JB) has found radiolarians years ago west of the upper parking area, and so has never doubted the identification of rocks west of the limestone as being Ordovician.

The Parastriatopora bed that is the focus of this webpage was discovered by Ted Matthews.    Ted is a senior caves guide at Jenolan and over the years has made a lot of educational materials available on Jenolan and on karst more generally.   For Ted’s contact details, and an outline of materials available from him please see:


The present webpage is put together by John Graham Byrnes (contact john.mail “@” ; LachlanHunter Associates, P.O. Box 121, BURWOOD, NSW 1805).

This small project was commenced in 2009, after Ted exhibited at the ‘Castlereagh talks’ (held in September 2009 at the  Wesleyan church conference room in Upper Castlereagh) some very fine specimens of Parastriatopora from just off the end of a branch of Burma Road at Jenolan Caves.   One piece from the bed is as shown below:

The first seen Ted Matthew’s specimen from the Parastriatopora find at the end of Burma Road, Jenolan Caves, as Ted brought and displayed at some talks on the past at Upper Castlereagh..  There
look to be extensive laminar overgrowths around some of the branches seen here.

Photograph at outcrop at the end of Burmah Road site, showing a fragment that appears to be two branches or stems of a corallum that were later subject to encroaching sheet overgrowth extending from elsewhere in the corallum.

This Castlereagh talks had been organised by John Byrnes who long ago (1960s-70s) had worked some on Silurian corals in New South Wales, including at Jenolan Caves.   John recognised the material as being almost certainly a Parastriatopora thicket base boundstone.   This is a facies long known from a number of other places in NSW, such as in the Narragal Limestone.     In 2010 a specimen from the Burma Road bed of Parastriatopora was taken to another student of fossil corals, Gary Dargan.   Gary made thin sections which immediately confirmed that the bed is a boundstone. 

Parastriatopora is the commonest Silurian branching coral in the NSW Silurian.   It is thought at present to constitute just one species which was very abundant.  It is the Silurian growth-form analogue of the abundant branching corals seen in modern seas – Acropora – as below:

A fine thicket of staghorn coral.  Maybe Parastriatopora thickets looked a little modern Acropora thickets?

( Photo:  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA )

Closer branching Acropora.  Formosa Staghorn Coral Colony (Acropora formosa) growing on a coral reef in the Banda Sea. (Photo:  Paul Osmond)


Parastriatopora is widespread and abundant in NSW Silurian limestone.   It commonly occurs as packstones of broken fragments:

One of us (JB) in the late 1960s to early 1970s did a study of Palaeozoic limestones, particularly those flanking the Hill End Trough on both sides.  This was to survey what could be easily seen of their biotic and paleaenvironmental aspects (Byrnes, 1972).   During those years numerous Parastriatopora packstones were observed (carbonate beds with loosely packed framework or near-framework abundance of one dominant skeletal element – the presumably transported or rolled fragments of the coral Parastriatopora).  Also observed were much fewer small occurrences  of limestone beds also dominated by or rich in paratriatopora which were of a different nature and mght be the in situ preserved bases of small patch reefs of this coral.   The current Jenolan focus of attention was thought to be one of this second mentioned and less abudant type of Parastriatopora bed.   Such beds ought to be of boundstone fabric under this micropscope.   This was confirmed in 2010 when Gary Dargan cut thin sections from the bed.

Distribution in New South Wales – Throughout the NSW Silurian limestones occurrences of Parastriatopora that have been noted in limestones of six broad regions (areas “A” to “F”) as grouped in Byrnes (1972).   These occurrences known in 1972 were:

Area A – Ironstone Creek Beds

Area B – Jenolan Limestone, Tuglow Formation, Bungonia Limestone

Area C – Mount Fairy Beds

Area D – Wylinga Formation, Narragal Limestone, Barnyby Hills Shale (limestone lenses), Molong Limestone, Nandillyan Limestone,

                Borenore Limestone, Sounder Marble, Dripstone Group (north of Wellington near Bodangora)

Area E – Hume Limestone, Yass Series, Yass Basin, Glenbower Beds, Cooleman Limestone, Yarrangobilly Limestone

Area F – Sugarloaf Hill Limestone, and near Dangelong Homestead (formation name unknown).

Observations of 1972 – The Parastriatopora packstones were recognised as an abundant and widespread facies of NSW Silurian limestones.   Such beds are often six inches to a foot in thickness.   Few would exceed 30 cm in thickness.   At some places these packstones are seen to occur in regular repetition over intervals of up to 20m in limestones.   

Although the genus continues into the Devonian in NSW no Devonian packstones of Parastriatopora were noted.   Either there was something particular to our Silurian conditions that favoured packstone accumulations of this coral, or else the apparent lack of it forming packstones in the Devonian is just a reflection of diminishing abundance of the genus in NSW over time?

The 1972 conclusion about the near-monospecific packstones in the Silurian limestones (mainly Parastriatopora but other species also form packstones to a lesser degree) was that they had accumulated in shallow and likely storm-affected waters.   Many cases were observed where sizeable colonies of other corals in these packstones (like Pycnostylus, Syringopora, etc.) had internal ‘matrix’ between that corallites which contrasts quite strongly with the general matrix of the packstone bed.   This suggested that such corals were transported as clasts, along with the abundant fragments of Parastriatopora, from other lime-mud area.    Similar conclusion was made for such colonies with internal lime-mud that now sit in shale – these being imagined to have been swept into still deeper and likely quieter water than the packstone beds accumulated in.   In such shales some ‘pockets’ of Parastriatopora fragments were sometimes observed.  In the most distinctive cases the ‘pocket’ of Parastriatopora fragments, a metre of so across, was the only place where Parastriatopora might be found at a shale locality.   Such occurrences (where there are also transported smaller coralla in shale) were thought to be cases where an entire Parastriatopora colony, or large part of it,  was somehow swept into deeper quiet water – but with no idea as to why such a branching corallum, transported entire, might later disintegrate into fragments before final burial.     If this interpretation were correct it gives some vague  picture or impression of what may have been the size that a Parastriatopra colony could reach  – rather large, perhaps extending through half a cubic metre.

That the abundant-Parastriatopora beds of the Silurian limestones in NSW are better termed packstones than wackestones was suggested by a number of observations.   It was observed that in almost all localities with well exposed thin beds of abundant Parastriatopora one could see preserved cases of fractured branch fragments in which the resultant halves remain close together in the surrounding matrix.   Such breakage must be post the transport of the fragments, and it suggests that the accumulations of branch fragments were at least in places close enough to a self-supported rubble of clasts (relatively low in matrix) that later superincumbent weight could crush and break fragments, or less likely some impacts of larger storm-thrown clasts against the rubble pile of coral fragments might have caused some of such observable breakages.   Compared to somewhat similar dense or fossil-‘crowded’ wackestones in the same limestones it was a very broad overall impression that the Parastriatopora packstones carried more dolomite in the matrix than did the crowded wackestones, perhaps a consequence of different early porosity.   

Considerably more common than the observations of what look like further late stage post depositional breakage of branch fragments is a ‘stripping of the coenostereozone (outer dense zone)’ phenomenon.    This is very commonly observed and perhaps it originated in a variety of different ways(?).

Coenostereozone stripping might even have happened somehow whilst the colonies still remained alive.    Or perhaps it mainly occurred  as ongoing pre-burial disintegration once corallum fragments had become detritus.   Such stripping was often looked for at outcrops and was usually able to be found wherever looked for.   However nothing was ever seen that allowed any firm concept of how the process occurred.    Annuli of coenostereozone were often removed, it seems, by flaking along sparsely thickened zones of the branches.   But just as frequently the stripping off or parting occurred at the main junction at the base of a distinct coenosterezone, sometimes along a zone of croweded tabulae.   The coenosterozone development varies a good deal from coral branch to branch and the influence of coenostereozone on the breakup of the corallum into fragments seems to be purely a factor of physical structure and relative strength.

It was observed that In some outcrops the apparent “peeling off” of coenostereozone is suggested by the presence of curved segments of coenostererozone that are still lying ‘concave outwards’ with respect to nearby branch fragments that appear denuded of coenostereozone.

It was wondered if the apparent in situ peeling off of coenostereozone could have been the result of differential strain set up by continued or periodic exposure to alternate heating and cooling – repeated dessication and re-soaking.   

No conclusive proof for the speculation that Parastriatopora packstone beds could be of very shallow water origin like this was even found, despite being carefully looked for with such possibility in mind.   At one place, the Nandillyan Limestone east of Molong some accretionary lapilli were found in the sequence (though not close to any particular Parastriatopora bed) and this in a general way supports that these well layered limestones may have experienced some very shallow water conditions during their formation.   Also a facies called ‘narragalite’ in Byrnes (1972) can be common in sequences containing the Parastriatopora packstones; and consideration of narragalite has favoured a very shallow water or intermittently exposed origin for this facies.

Attempts were made to try and trace individual Parastriatopora packstone beds laterally.   Owing to the presence of numerous minor faults, in addition to presence of multiple packstone beds in vertical sequence (so that identity of any particular bed is easily lost across faulting) such attempts were generally of litte success.   The furthest a Parastriatopora packstone was ever traced for in the 1972 study was only ca. 200 feet, within the Narragal Limestone south of Wellington.

Although occasion patch reef bases, as imagined for the assumed masses of staghorn coral growth that would have shed all the fragments for Parastriatopora packstone, were found pre-1972 these were never investigated in any detail.  It is also now thought that the Jenolan example is likely the best of all such known  to date, and hence very worthy of some further investigation.   Other similar examples seen, as in the Narragal Limestone, were previously examined to see if any had any proximity to packstones, or could even be in direct lateral continuity.   However, nothing that ‘direct’, as could support inferences that transported branch fragments came off dense fields of branching coral colonies similar in general aspect as those of today, could ever be found.

Parastriatopora of the Silurian times was probably nothing near as impressive and ‘graceful’ as many of the ‘fields’ of modern staghorn or branching coral (mostly Acropora).   Thickets of Parastriatopora were probably smaller and of more ‘stubby’ growth form.  However the actual form and maximum possible size (height) of the Silurian Parastriatopora entire colony has not yet been reconstructed.   To reconstruct a corallum of the species would probably require finding pieces of an isolated corallum in shale, extracting  them and piecing back together.   This is potentially feasible yet unlikely. 

Below are two photos of branching tabulate coralla of Devonian age at Falls of the Ohio which appear to have been buried and preserved substantially intact.   For some reason our branching Parastriatopora in the NSW Silurian has never been seen preserved substantially intact despite the vast amount of this species which have been buried and preserved to form a substantial part of the Silurian limestones of the State. 

“Thamnopora limitaris”, Devonian, Falls of the Ohio -“Intact colonies like this are widespread on the fossil beds.”

Emmonsia ramosa”, a giant branching favositid.  This “forms colonies over 50 ft (15m) across”.   Falls of the Ohio.  

(Photos:  The Falls of the Ohio State Park)

Although abundant, and a major contributor to the building of our Silurian limestones, Parastriatopora in NSW is dominantly found in fragmental and possibly transported form.   Fragments of it are preserved usually in horizontal orientation, and often so abundantly as to be the principal or almost sole skeletal component of packstones.   Such packstones may be up to a foot thick and they may continue for considerable distances.   By contrast, Parastriatopora boundstone facies is rare and no occurrence of it has ever been seen to continue any appreciable distance.    These observations lead previously, in the 1970s, to the conclusion that Parastriatopora typically formed small patch reef thickets; and that periodic storm destruction of these spread Parastriatopora branch fragment far and wide between the thickets.

Unlike in the Parastriatopora packstones, the coral fragments in Parastriatopora boundstone facies do not lie in any dominant orientation.   Also, many fragments in boundstone facies show overgrowths of the same species or maybe even the same corallum – something generally not seen in Parastriatopora packstones.   This supports the idea that Parastriatopora boundstone represents the preserved bases of thickets.

Typical Parastriatopora branch fragments from elsewhere, showing greater alignment.  This is perhaps a wackestone fabric.   Note the darker coloured peripheral zones on the branches.  These are ‘stereozone’ as explained below.  From the Fukuji Formation of Japan (“Yoshiki-gun, Gifu Kamitakara Fukuchi farm village. Late Silurian”

 (Source:  Watacchi specimen FK005)

Another typical but horribly preserved Parastriatopora packstone in Japan.

( )

Narragal Limestone packstone specimen, showing how common breakages may be – four pointed out here.

Breakages are often seen in Parastriatopora packstones.   The reason is uncertain but it may in indicate that the jumble of branch fragments were in sufficient contact througout the mass to direclty transmit accumulating load pressure after burial.

The next step for the Burma Road project will be field observation, to try and determine the stratigraphic position of the limestone with respect to Ordovician strata which are expected to lie close-by to the west, the along-strike lateral extent of the bed, and to note anything intermal to the bed which can tell us anything of the conditions of deposition and coral life.


I spent some time during 1965 doing geology in the area; and living at “Upper Farm” clearing near Budthingeroo Creek on the Kanangra Walls Road, south of Jenolan Caves.   Also in the 60s/70s I visited some of the caves with a university cavers group – Mammoth Cave being the most memorable for me.  In one of the years just pre-1972 I made I made examinations over the limestone extending north from the Grand Arch and up McKeowan’s valley.   At that time I noted some rare indications of very shallow (or emergent) palaeoenvironments in the limestone, especially what I thought was some small pockets of very early internal sediment (later thrown perhaps into some doubt by Armstrong Osborne’s work on ‘caymanite’ there), some undulating growth of a flat Coenites which I thought looked like that may have been upon a disturbed/burrowed lagoonal floor; and some intraclasts which I thought looked like they might have been storm-thrown, suggesting very shallow water.   By and large though, such things I found to be very rare and not representative of the great bulk of the limestone – whose depositional environment remained highly opaque to me no matter how much I looked at it in those years.   At that time (60s-70s) a larger amount of shallow water features had been observed by me in the limestone at Tuglow Caves and my thinking was whether or not some sort of facies pattern might be findable between Tuglow and Jenolan Caves akin to what exists between limestone at Molong and the Narragal Limestone further north (where a whole variation, and assumed lateral sequence, from penecontemporaneously eroded hard-rock-reefal limestone to oncolitic sands (pelsparites) to bedded/dolomitic lagonal biomicrite limestone (Narragal facies) were known.   However, the time was never found to explore any of the country intervening between Tuglow and Jenolan Caves.

My next renewal of some connection with Jenolan Caves was when caves guide Ted Matthews phoned me and said he had read section of my 1972 work on limestone palaeoenvironments – and that he was particularly interested in the Narragal facies and questions of dolomitisation etc.   Amongst Ted’s own writings and photos I then came upon his photo of piece of the Burma Road Parastriatopora bed and immediately suspected such as being from an in situ excellent remant of one of the long postulated patch reefs with this species – the postulated source of the abundant species of this coral as seen in the packstone beds such as in the Narragal Limestone.    Ted later on displayed a chunk of the bed at a discussion day at Upper Castlereagh and transferred a piece of it to me at that time (this being the piece I organised for Gary Dargan to thin section).

To commence trying to promote some interest in the occurrence, the material was next taken to the Australian Museum (although at the time the then palaeontology, Bob Jones, was about to retire and he was not able to suggest anyone known to be interested in or working on tabulate corals).   During that visit the museum collections were looked through.   There was quite an assortment of small pieces of Parastriatopora which had already been collected from Jenolan Caves in the past.   None of them, however, had localilty details or were of any particular note.   They were by and large small isolated pieces, and none seeming to be from packstone/boundstone beds.

Gary Dargan at the Deparment of Mines Londonderry facility made some excellent LARGE thin sections from the Parastriatopora bed limestone piece that Ted Matthews had collected.  The thin sections  fully confirmed the expected coralgal nature of the rock, and that the bases of a  Parastriatopora were miost likely to be here preserved in situ.    This was the first recognision of in situ preservation in NSW of this very abundant species that is seen in so many of our Silurian limestone ( Parastriatopora certainly also ranges into the Devonian but has never yet been seen as the principal component of beds in the Devonian limestones of NSW – the Silurian was its time of epic proportions it would appear ).   Shortly after Gary made the thin sections he went overseas and was lost touch with.    Some meagre efforts later on to find his new address were not successful.

Following the making of the thin sections, some suitable base map for plotting the bed at the end of Burma Road upon was next sought.   Little progress could be made with that.    The first batch of enquiries looking for persons who might be interested in describing the material also failed to bear any fruit at all.   This was impeded by the fact that Nomen nudum had apparently ceased being produced (a very valuable directory to ongoing palaeontological work in Australia).   Also the entire website where ALL former issues of NN had been downloadable from vanished.   This had been connected with a formerly very vigorous palaeontological centre at Macquarie University.    For all that could be gleaned remotely it was as if that had vanished too and it looked rather like a mini dark ages for palaeontology in Australia(?).

One of the next things to be done was to try and catch up on later work on the Jenolan Caves Limestone, as embodied in theses at University of NSW, Kensington (where I’d done my own thesis in 1965 on an areas south of Jenolan).   Back in 1965 all geology thesis were instantly accessible at UNSW, on rows at the back of the geology library.   But “now”, upon my return after very many years — the geology librarian was no more, the geology library had long since vanished, and it was in fact proving very difficult to find/see theses.

The project languished till 2012 when it was learned by chance that Nomen nudum had been resurrected and I managed to get copy of recent issues sent from the Geological Survey in Queensland.

Following my renewal of interest in seeking Parastiatopora information in 2012, the next significant thing to be learned was about preserved in situ colonies of such had been reported in Silurian strata at southwest Ireland near Dunquin (Ferriter’s Cove) at the Western tip of the Dingle Peninsula.   Three places (one a newspaper) reporting on these colonies (up to a metre across) were written to.


Assistance is acknowledged with gratitude to those who have given discussion on this matter or sent information, especally Dr Shuji Niko, (Department of Environmental Studies, Hiroshima University, Japan); and Doctora Esperanza Fern�ndez-Mart�nez (Palaeontology, Biology and Environmental Sciences, Vegazana campus, University of Leon, Spain).   Since 1991, Esperanza Fern�ndez-Mart�nez has together with others studied species of Parastriatopora from Argentina, Bolivia and Spain. 

Dra. Esperanza Fern�ndez-Mart�nez, Universidad de Le�n – a leading publisher on Parastriatopora.

According to information mainly received from Fern�ndez-Mart�nez, it is currently thought that the genus Parastriatopora may have arisen in the Upper Ordovician of Northern China, slightly preceeded by Kolymopora which is regarded as its most likely ancestor.

Parastriatopora persisted in North China into the Lower Silurian, at which point it spread throughout southeast Asia, Siberia, the Urals and the Baltic region.

Later in the Silurian it reached Australia, Iran, and possibly Alaslka.   The time when its most widespread distribution was achieved was during the Lower Devonian.   In addition to the previously mentioned regions it then spread to the Carnic Alps, the Armorican Massif, Sprain, Morocco and Algeria.   Shortly after this it disappeared, prior to the Eifelian.

Lines of investigation by Professor of Palaeontology Esperanza Fern�ndez-Mart�nez are at , and they include the following: 

� Estudio sistem�tico y paleoecol�gico de diversos g�neros de corales tabulados ramificados no constructores de grandes edificaciones, presentes en el Dev�nico Inferior de la Pen�nsula Ib�rica:
        – G�nero Parastriatopora (Cordillera Cant�brica, Cordillera Ib�rica, Ossa Morena).         – G�nero Saouraepora (Cordillera Cant�brica).         – G�nero Yacutiopora (Cordillera Ib�rica).         – G�nero Crenulipora (Cordillera Cant�brica).
 � Paleobiogeograf�a del g�nero Parastriatopora. Su inter�s en la reconstrucci�n de Am�rica del Sur durante el Paleozoico Inferior y Medio.

dimefm “@”


Most of the Siluro-Devonian time was at the world’s warmest known average global temperature.  Note that strong change in environmental conditions appears to have been rapid at the beginning of the Silurian.  After that, however, conditions were rather stable continuing into the Devonian.   At Jenolan Caves the situation well matches that.   Below the Silurian limestone there is a marked contrast with the Ordovician strata/conditions; but upwards from there things are gradational and it is possible that the limestone might continue slightly into Devonian time.

The warm shallow warm water conditions in the Silurian gave rise to an abundance of limestone formation.   Tabulate corals are prolific in most of these limestones.  In a biostratigraphic review of the Silurian tabulate corals and chaetetids of Australia, Munson et al. (2001) concluded:


The biostratigraphic distribution of the Silurian Tabulata and Chaetetida of Australia can informally be described in terms of four successive coral assemblages.  The earliest Bridge Creek Assemblage (Rhuddanian-Aeronian) contains abundant halysitids and is not geographically widespread.  Species of this assemblage tend to be holdovers from Late Ordovician faunas.  A major radiation event occurred at the time of the Quarry Creek Assemblage (Telychian-early Sheinwoodian), involving favositids, heliolitids, halysitids, and other groups. This may indicate the onset of conditions favourable to corals over widespread areas of eastern Australia.  The late Sheinwoodian-earliest Gorstian Dripstone Assemblage is characterised by a continued expansion in the number of species of favositids, the appearance of auloporids, and a contraction in the number of species of sarcinulids, multisoleniids, and halysitids.  Favositids continued to dominate the youngest Hatton’s Corner Assemblage (Gorstian-Pridoli), but halysitids almost became extinct by the end of the Ludlow. Faunas of Pridoli age are neither abundant nor well studied, but appear to be reduced continuations of earlier faunas. A number of tabulate taxa are identified as possibly useful biostratigraphic indicators in Silurian sequences.


No halysitids have ever been seen in the Jenolan Caves Limestone but south of Jenolan they do occur in red limestone at Tuglow Caves.  This is reminescent of the Molong (or Molong-Borenore) area on the opposite side of the Hill End Trough.  There, the very thick Molong Limestone is devoid of halysitids except for a thin interval of red limestone (similar to the Borenore Limestone) irregularly preserved at its base.   These red halysitid bearing limestone at all localities (Molong, Borenore, Tuglow Caves) show fabric evidence of emergence or erosion.   This might represent a regional event (?tectonic) or else emergence might be a function of particular palaeogeographic aspect of the depositional environment. 


Para means something like, e.g. paramedic.  So Parastriatopora is something like the earlier named Striatopora.

“Striatopora linnaeana” from Lower Devonian near Louisville.

On the above branch fragment of a Striatoropora species it can be seen that the corallites ascend obliquely to the branch surface and their calyces are ribbed with short thick prominent septa.

Parastriatopora differs in that the corallites before reaching branch surface curve to meet branch surface orthogonally.  Also the septa are much more strongly developed, sometime almost completely clogging the corallite below where the polyps dwelt at the branch surface.  This great thickening gives a dense outer annulus to the skeleton, called a ‘stereozone’.

Thus two basic features characterise the concept of the genus Parastriatopora as it has generally been recognised – the form of the corallum as cylindrical branching growths, and the presence of a well differentiated marginal zone of skeletal thickening (stereozone, or sometimes called coenostereozone).  

Contributing to the formation of a distinctly demarcated stereozone may be the turning of the course of corallite growth (so that corallites met the surface of the cylinder perpendicularly rather than obliquely as in the above image of Striatopora), thickening and/or increased frequency of tabulae, thickening of septal ridges, or all these factors combined.   Various authors have also considered if microstructure might be a characteristic feature.     

Within the broad idea of just two basic features, cyclindrical form and distinct stereozone, as concept of the genus Parastriatopora there may indeed be room for sub-genera or more than one genus.   This has been proposed but perhaps is not entirely unanimous.   In particular, Niko (2004) introduced a new genus, Hitoeganella, with very thickened tabulae in the stereozone, which if accepted as valid by other workers might end up a better taxonomic placement for the NSW Silurian species.   For the moment the separate genus Hitoeganella is ignored here.   Another similar genus, Argentinella Fernadez-Martinez, Plusquellec, Tourner, from the Lower Devonian of Argentina, does seem reliably separtated from Parastriatopora.   It does not have such clear demarcation of stereozone and is highly septate throughout.

The type species of Parastriatopora is P. rhizoides  Sokolov 1949 from the Llandoverian of the Siberian Platform.  Garcia-L�pez and  Fernandez-Martinez (1995) wrote that this species is probably synonymous with Striatopora mutabilis Tchernychev 1937 from the Upper Silurian in the north of Zembla.   If so, that species lasting throughout the Silurian accords with the suspected likelihood of the NSW Silurian Parastriatopora being a single long range form.   The Silurian form does not appear to extend into the Devonian in NSW and perhaps there will eventually be a hiatus discerned in NSW for Parastriatopora-like corals, with the Silurian form dying out and other representative/s of the genus having migrated in from elsewhere during the the Devonian.

Thin section appearance of branching favositids with marked peripheral stereozone, kindly supplied by

Esperanza Ferdin�ndez-Mart�nez in “Parastriatopora, La Vid”

Close-ups of polished hand specimen with Parastriatopora from the Fukuji Formation of Japan,

showing stereozones.   (Source:  Watacchi specimen FK005)

Parastriatopora commutabilis Klaamann, 1962

( Upper Silurian Tabulata of Estonia – In Russian, Trudy Instituta geologii AN ESSR, vol. 9, pp. 25-70 )

From the Estonian Silurian there have been a number of species of Parastriatopora described.    P. commutabilis has very strongly developed stereozone and the other two species much less so.   Such variation is not noted in the Silurian material in NSW, which seemingly shows continuous variation and could be of just one species.

Silurian ‘Striatopora’ from Grogarnshuvud, Gotland, Sweden.    ( Photo:  Heidi Freidhoff )

“More Parastriatopora” – By Linda Mary Fowler in Dunquin, Kerry, Ireland.  “Ferriters Cove has exposures of Lower Silurian Dunquin Group: we worked our way up through a parasequence from offshore calcareous siltstones through bioturbated shoreface sandstones, a barrier island deposit, volcanics, a tidal flat and lagoonal facies”.   She states that Parastriatopora is adapted to lagoonal facies (“P1040480 – Parastriatopora – coral adapted to the lagoon niche”), and Parastriatopora packstones abundant in the Narragal Limestone (and similar facies elsewhere) in the Silurian in NSW is also regarded as lagoonal. 

Parastriatopora from elsewhere within the Jenolan Caves Limestone.  A common occurrence of the coral there is in red-brown highly dolomitic matrix.   (Photo:  Ted Matthews)

The occurrence of Parastriatopora at  Dunquin, Kerry, Ireland was first learned of via the Flickr photo “More Parastriatopora” above by Linda Mary Fowler.

Following up on that located brief mentions of it in a book “Sedimentation, Tectonics, and Eustasy” Special Publication 12 of the International Association of Sedimentologists, edited by David I. M. Macdonald ( John Wiley & Sons, 15/04/2009 – 368 pages ).  And specifically within “Volcano-tectonic control of offshore to tidal-flat regressive cycles from the Dunquin Group (Silurian) of southwest Ireland” by R.J. Sloan and B.P.J. Williams (pp. 105-122). 

(Sloan – Department of Geology, Bristol University ; Williams – Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology, Aberdeen University. )

What is said by Sloan and Williams about Parastriatopora is not lengthy but is interesting.  On page 114 it is stated:

Fig. 9E of Sloan and Williams (2009) – “Lagoonal facies: branching coral Parastriatopora in rare growth position.  Individual colonies are up to 1m across”.

The colonies shown above are currently the only intact colonies of the genus known to this writer.   The Dunquin Group is Late Wenlockian to early Ludlovian.

Years previously the typical Narragal Limestone facies of alternating mottled micritic and dolomitic layers, with monospecific packstones, lead to  interpretation of subtital lagoon for this facies.   The Narragal Limestone represents a very large lagoon with many stromatoporoid-coral patch reefs, it was concluded.   However no in situ  portions of Parastriatopora colonies were ever recognised at such patch reefs prior to the find at Jenolan Caves.

“Underlying the spectacular, rugged beauty of Corca Dhuibhne, the Dingle Peninsula, a stony core of rock records a fascinating saga of earth history going back at least 410 million years to the Silurian Period. The earliest chapters in this story reveal the presence of a shallow sea where small colonial corals, brachiopods and trilobites lived on a soft bottom of fine sand and mud. Nearby, active volcanoes made life difficult for this early marine life by periodically blanketing the region in fine deposits of volcanic ash and an occasional lava flow ……. In 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius awoke from a fitful slumber to devastate the silence and bury alive the residents of Pompeii within a time-encapsulating tomb of fiery ash and cinders. It happened at Clogher Head, too, but this time it was only the likes of trilobites and brachiopods which were left to scream in silence as the molten ash and cinders boiled their juices and clogged the shallow seaways of their watery home.”  (viewed 2012 )

Genus recognized by Paleobiology Database:

Observations posted to iNaturalist will supposedly be uploaded automatically to Encylopedia of Life ( i.e. “You can contribute images to EOL through the popular nature observation site iNaturalist.  If you upload your images as iNaturalist observations, they will be exported to EOL if the following conditions are met: * Your observations is confirmed at the Research Grade level by the iNaturalist community ; * Your image is released under a creative commons license that is compatible with the EOL licensing policy.  Because iNaturalist observations have undergone community review, photos from iNaturalist are considered TRUSTED information on EOL” ).


The Burma Road Parastriatopora bed predates New South Wales and predates Australia.   Australia would not separate from Gondwanaland till long after the Silurian.   On the below map ‘Australia’ is not easy to recognise as the eastern part of it was shallow seaway (Tasman Geosyncline).   This lay north of the equator and shallow sea is shown near-continuous to North/South China regions, regarded as once joined with Australia as part of the Gondwanaland supercontinent.   The closest similarities to our Parastriatopora are known from locations in the SE Asian region.

The Silurian World, adapted from the Paleogeographic Globes of Prof. Ron Blakey of Northern Arizona University 

Polar view of Gondwana supercontinent part of the world in the Silurian, using modern landmass outlines

to show the then equatorial position of ‘Australia’ and the south pole then in Africa.


The region around Jenolan Caves is now a deeply dissected tableland.   The following two views are from south and north of Jenolan Caves:

Looking over the relatively gently undulating top of the tableland at Kanangra Walls, south of Jenolan Caves, showing encroaching arms of deep erosion along creeks draining to the Cox River.    The rocks at this point are inclined (folded) Late Devonian quartzites (Lambie Group) overlain by flat-lying Permian strata (with the white scar patches).   [Photo:  David Skeoch]

On a fine day – the view from Mt Inspiration lookout, on the Jenolan Road north of Jenolan Caves, showing how the district is a deeply dissected tableland.  (Photo: Jason Waddell)

Same view with mist rising from the valleys – a common sight also in the Blue Mountains.


The geological compilation surrounding Jenolan Caves is in much need of further work.   The area map portion at right, has had less detailed work or little advancement since the 1960s.  That part is from Brunker & Rose (1967).   The area at left has been more recently revised; by Raymond, Pogson et al. (1998).  Width of this whole area depicted is about 45 km.    Tv – Tertiary volcanics (basalt, dolerite,  microsyenite, trachyte and tinguaite). Cg – Carboniferous granite and granodiorite, Cwg – Carboniferous, Kanangra Granite (pale pink, medium grained hornblende granite), Dlg – Devonian, Gibbons Creek Sandstone of Lambie Group (thickly to thinly bedded quartz sandstone, siltstone, mudstone), Dul – Devonian, Lambie Group conglomerate, sandstone and shale.  Duv – Devonian, undifferentiated volcanics (Bindook Porphyry), Dcd – Devonian, Dunchurch Formation of Crudine Group, Skc – Silurian, Kildrummie Group. Ss – Silurian, undifferentiated sediments, volcanics and limestone. Smc – Silurian, Campbells Formation of Mumbil Group (East), Smh – Silurian, Hollanders Formation of Mumbil Group (East), Smi – Silurian, Karawina Formation of Mumbil Group (East), Qcr – Ordovician, Rockley Volcanics of Cabonne Group, Qkt – Ordovician, Triangle formation of Kenilworth Group, Qa – Ordovician, Adaminaby Group.   [This combination by Jill Rowling in 2004.]    (NB:  The SW-trending linear “tail” from the Cg intrusion to the east of Jenolan is not granite.  It is a coarse mafic intrusive known as the Budthingeroo Amphibolite.]

Below are examples of some of the maps/imagery available for Jenolan.   An air photo enlargement is perhaps the best option for attempted mapping.   The online “State topographic data”, either via the Lands Department “SIX server” or the 1:25,000 topographic map (8930-III-N) may be of auxilliary interest but is probably not adequate for any detailed recording. 

Overlooking Jenolan from the southwest.   The road down on the east is called the “five mile” bends and the rise on the west towards Oberon is termed the “two mile” rise.  This shows the stream (McKeown’s Creek) that cuts through the on-end limestone formation at Jenolan Caves and the flatter country to the west after rising up the “two mile” rise.  The higher land on the Oberon side has been extensively cleared for Pinus radiata forest.

The site of interest with the suspected Parastriatopra thicket preserved more or less in situ, at the end of Burmah Road, is at the eastern end of the house seen immediately west of the “7” (here termed “Devils Coach House Lookdown”.  This has been the best map found to date of Jenolan Caves vicinity.  (Source: Lands Department, Land and Property Information section, 2006).  The two chunky promintories east of point “7” (Devil’s Coach House Lookdown) look to be bedding-joint controlled (possibly erosional re-entrants along shaley or thin-bedded units in the limestone – airphoto interpretation only).

Driving through the limestone from the east (the Grand Arch), showing the ‘massive’ bedded nature of much of the limestone.  A complexity of joints and water stainings along cracks may combine to defeat the eager seeker after “where’s the bedding”, but essentially the limestone is  about-vertical (if that helps pick the bedding planes).  [Contact Ted Matthews re places where bedding is exposed within the caves.]

Parastriatopora bed outcrop beyond Cottage 2, Burma Road, is near the base of the Jenolan Caves Limestone as on this map compiled by C.A. Sussmilch (Sussmilch and Stone, 1916).

Jenolan Caves vicinity as depicted on the 1:25,000 topographic map, 8930-III-N

Jenolan Caves on State topographic data ( per SIX server, ).  Burma Road is the road seen north of Caves House, running off the main ‘Oberon road’.   Burma Road first runs WNW and has several cottages, then turns to run NE where there are further cottage sites.   The “Caves House” is situated at the western edge of the Jenolan Limestone that runs approximately N-S.   Follow the northerly grid line and it would appear that  the base of the limestone should pass close by the easternmost cottage at the northern end of Burma Road.  Just east of there is the Parastriatopora bed as shown below.

Caves House, and showing topography surrounding the valley which the caves are down in.   The Burma Road is on high ground north of Caves House (to the right in above photo).

Same area and same source (SIX server) with 25% topo lines mixed to aerial photography.  The bare area seen between Burma Road and Caves House is the “upper” or “Carlotta” parking area.  Not very clear, and better maps sought.

Google Earth – upper parking area to Burma Road cottages.

Broader view of the area with Burma Road pin-pointed.    About pin’s length NW of the pin point here is seen the cottage clearing on the final NE trending stretch of Burma Road.   If the line of the NS creek whose mouth is just west of Caves House (at base of limestone) is projected north it can be seen that it passes just east of that cottage. (….see larger view below) that is near the end of Burma Road.  [per SIX server]

Thought to possibly be where the base of the limestone might run to the north and where Parastriatopora might also extend to – but the label is premature as this has not yet been checked.   The limestone rapidly falls away to the east as cliffs as shown.  

Search for a map of Jenolan in Google generally produces only versions of this, which comes from GoogleMaps.  It is of minimal detail yet virtually all tourist agents operating online use this map and seem to have nothing better.

Same data in Google Earth, lit from the east.   The steep limestone rise west of McKeowns Creek (a.k.a. Jenolan River) runs north from the Grand Arch area to where it bends to run NW,  north of the Burma Road cottages.   The reason for this is that the creek here cuts across the limestone from the east side to its western flank (where Burma Road zig-zags down to cross it.).

Currently, any other good strongly detailed maps of Jenolan Caves are being sought.   University theses are yet  to be read and will doubtless prove fruitful in containing some products of mapping at Jenolan Caves.


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Chalker, L., 1971.     Limestone in the Jenolan Caves area.   Records of the New South   Wales Geological Survey.  Vol. 13, No. 2., pp. 53-60.

Fernández-Martínez, E., Plusquellec, Y., Ttourneur, F. & Herrera, Z., 1999.   Parastriatopora sanjuanina, nueva especie de tabulado del Devónico Inferior de Argentina.  Revista Espagnola de Paleontologia, 14 (1), pp. 37-57.

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