• Flinders Ranges;
  • glaciation;
  • ice stream;
  • Neoproterozoic;
  • snowball Earth;
  • Sturtian;
  • trough mouth fan


The Bolla Bollana Formation is an exceptionally thick (ca 1500 m), rift-related sedimentary succession cropping out in the northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia, which was deposited during the Sturtian (mid Cryogenian) glaciation. Lithofacies analysis reveals three distinct facies associations which chart changing depositional styles on an ice-sourced subaqueous fan system. The diamictite facies association is dominant, and comprises both massive and stratified varieties with a range of clast compositions and textures, arranged into thick beds (1 to 20 m), representing stacked, ice-proximal glaciogenic debris-flow deposits. A channel belt facies association, most commonly consisting of normally graded conglomerates and sandstones, displays scour and fill structure of ca 10 m width and 1 to 3 m depth: these strata are interpreted as channelized turbidites. Rare mud-filled channels in this facies association bear glacially striated lonestones. Finally, a sheet heterolithics facies association contains a range of conglomerates through sandstones to silty shales arranged into clear, normally graded cycles from the lamina to bed scale. These record a variety of non-channelized turbidites, probably occupying distal and/or inter-channel locations on the subaqueous fan. Coarsening and thickening-up cycles, capped by dolomicrites or mudstones, are indicative of lobe build out and abandonment, potentially as a result of ice lobe advance and stagnation. Dropstones, recognized by downwarped and punctured laminae beneath pebbles to boulders in shale, or in delicate climbing ripple cross-laminated siltstones, are clearly indicative of ice rafting. The co-occurrence of ice-rafted debris and striated lonestones strongly supports a glaciogenic sediment source for the diamictites. Comparison to Pleistocene analogues enables an interpretation as a trough mouth fan, most probably deposited leeward of a palaeo-ice stream. Beyond emphasizing the highly dynamic nature of Sturtian ice sheets, these interpretations testify to the oldest trough mouth fan recorded to date.