Long-lived crustal-scale fluid flow: The hydrothermal mega-breccia of Hidden Valley, Mt. Painter Inlier, South Australia

Anett Weisheit, Paul D. Bons, Marlina A. Elburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The Palaeozoic Hidden Valley breccia in the Northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia is exceptional for (1) its size of about 10 km2, (2) the large continuous range in clast sizes from tens of microns to hundreds of metres and (3) thorough mixing of lithologies of different provenance, some originally kilometres apart stratigraphically. The size distribution follows a single fractal dimension of about unity over at least 6 orders of magnitude, implying that a single process was responsible for diminution from the 100 m scale, down to < mm. The breccia formed during >12 km exhumation which lasted about 200 Myrs, starting during the ~500 Ma Delamerian Orogeny and continuing during the Alice Springs Orogeny. Fluids released during exhumation were structurally focussed towards Hidden Valley, where an estimated 20 (5-30) km3 total fluid volume caused the extensive brecciation. Brecciation initiated in Neoproterozoic cover metasedimentary rocks, at a level that is now fully exhumed. As hydrothermal fluid ascent continued with ongoing exhumation, the level of brecciation shifted down into the underlying Mesoproterozoic basement rocks, taking with it clasts of cover rocks. In this model, rocks pass through the zone of brecciation, which can thus incorporate a variety of lithologies that were originally kilometres apart.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1219-1236
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Flinders Ranges
  • Fluid flow
  • Hydraulic brecciation
  • Hydrothermal alteration
  • Mount Painter Inlier

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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