Voluminous acid volcanism in the Busheveld Complex: A review of the Rooiberg Felsite

Research paper by D. Twist, B. M. French

Indexed on: 01 Sep '83Published on: 01 Sep '83Published in: Bulletin of Volcanology


The 2.1 b.y. old Rooiberg Felsite roofs and is intruded by the mafic layered rocks and granites of the Bushveld Complex. The felsite unit, which locally exceeds 5 km in thickness and may represent an originally erupted volume of more than 300,000 km3, is dominated by rhyolitic to dacitic lavas with minor pyroclastic and sedimentary rock types. Volcanic rocks of more mafic composition occur towards the base of the sequence. The Rooiberg episode essentially terminated the volcanic activity in the Transvaal basin and heralded the emplacement of the Bushveld Complex.Despite the close spatial and temporal relationships between the Rooiberg Felsite and the Bushveld Complex, the precise nature of the petrogenetic link is obscure. Chemical analyses of felsite have been variously interpreted to suggest cyclic differentiation along a comagmatic trend or to demonstrate anomalous enrichment in SiO2. Several characteristics delineate the Rooiberg Felsite as a possibly unique occurrence of rhyolitic magmatism, notably the immense volume of the unit, the marked preponderance of lavas over pyroclastic types, and the unusually great thickness and lateral extent of the flows. The thesis that the Rooiberg Felsite represents a shock-produced, meteorite-impact melt cannot be supported on the available evidence.