Mineralogy and geochemistry of atypical reduction spheroids from the Tumblagooda Sandstone, Western Australia

David C.M. Fox* (Corresponding Author), Samuel C. Spinks, Robert L. Thorne, Milo Barham, Mehrooz Aspandiar, Joseph Armstrong, Tonguc Uysal, Nicholas E. Timms, Mark A. Pearce, Michael Verrall, Belinda Godel, Brad Whisson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Reduction spheroids are small-scale, biogenic, redox-controlled, metal enrichments that occur within red beds globally. This study provides the first analysis of the compositionally unique reduction spheroids of the Tumblagooda Sandstone. The work aims to account for their composition and consequently improve existing models for reduction spheroids generally, which presently fail to account for the mineralogy of the Tumblagooda Sandstone reduction spheroids. Interstitial areas between detrital grains contained in the cores of these reduction spheroids are dominated by microplaty haematite, in addition to minor amounts of svanbergite, gorceixite, anatase, uraninite, monazite, and illite. The haematite-rich composition, along with an absence of base metal phases and the vanadiferous mica roscoelite, makes these reduction spheroids notable in comparison to other global reduction spheroid occurrences. Analyses of illite crystallinity provide values for samples of the Tumblagooda Sandstone host rock corresponding to heating temperatures of ~200°C. Consequently, while Tumblagooda Sandstone reduction spheroids formed via the typical metabolic processes of dissimilatory metal-reducing bacteria, the combination of a unique mineralogy and illite crystallinity analysis provides evidence of more complex late-stage heating and reoxidation. This has not previously been recognised in other reduction spheroids and therefore expands the existing model for reduction spheroid genesis by also considering the potential for late-stage alteration. As such, future reduction spheroid studies should consider the potential impact of post-formation modification, particularly where they are to be used as evidence of ancient microbial processes; such as in the search for early evidence of life in the geological record on Earth or other planets. Additionally, because of their potential for modification, reduction spheroids serve as a record of the redox history of red beds and their study could provide insights into the evolution of redox conditions within a given red bed during its diagenesis. Finally, this paper also provides insights into the relatively understudied diagenetic history of the Tumblagooda Sandstone; supplying the first reliable and narrow constraints on its thermal history. This has important implications for the thermal history of the Carnarvon Basin and its petroleum prospectivity more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-698
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Early online date8 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a CSIRO Mineral Resources studentship, a Curtin University student scholarship and a Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia scholarship. The editors of Sedimentology and three anonymous reviewers are acknowledged for their assistance in improving the manuscript. We would also like to thank Mike Paxman and the Parks and Wildlife Service for permission to sample in Kalbarri National Park. Finally, the authors would like to pay tribute to the memory of Professor Nigel Trewin, whose work laid much of the foundation for this study and many others on the Tumblagooda Sandstone.


  • red beds
  • diagenesis
  • redox
  • Carnarvon Basin
  • metal-reducing bacteria
  • haematite
  • Perth Basin
  • Svanbergite
  • svanbergite


Dive into the research topics of 'Mineralogy and geochemistry of atypical reduction spheroids from the Tumblagooda Sandstone, Western Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this