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Geology of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland, New Zealand : a report comprising the results of official explorations

The Waipara Formation

The Waipara Formation.

In the preceding notes on the "General Geological Structure of the Province," I have already given some details on the origin of this important formation, which although not of great horizontal extent, is nevertheless of considerable interest, both from a scientific and economic point of view. It was named the Waipara formation in 1866 by Professor von Hochstetter, the valley of that river being the principal locality in which the remains of numerous huge saurians were found, and placed by him at the same time in the Jurassic group. However, when examining these beds more closely in the Waipara and Malvern Hills districts, and collecting their numerous fossil contents, I found that the impressions of plants in the lowest series consisted of dicotyledonous leaves, of which the following species are well represented:— Fagus ninnisiana, Phyllites eucalyptroides, Loranthophyllum dubium, Griselinia myrtifolium, and several others described by Unger from specimens collected by von Hochstetter in Auckland and Nelson, and considered by both authorities as indicating a true tertiary age. I also obtained remains of some conifers, amongst them the impression of a large araucarian cone and twigs, belonging without doubt to that division of pines which at present are still inhabitants of Australia, besides leaves and twigs of a dammara, resembling in many respects the kauri of the Northern islands. On the West Coast, on the other hand, although most of the plant impressions are dicotyledonous leaves, many of them are different from those found on the page 292East Coast; moreover, besides a small number of ferns (one of them a Pecopteris), there are numerous remains of Gymnogens and Endogens, which I have not found at Shag Point or in the Malvern Hills. However, when examining the whole series side by side, there is no doubt that a good many species of plants are common to all three localities, and that climate, soil, and altitude may easily account for the peculiarities of the flora in each district.

Now in regard to the fossil molluscs, both from the Waipara and the Malvern Hills, where the formation under review is most largely represented, it is true that a number of them are of the same species as in the Amuri district; but, as I have already pointed out in my previous reports, there has hitherto not been the least sign of the occurrence of belemnites, so frequent in the latter locality; and as all the other shells, with scarcely any exception, are still represented in the marine fauna living at present near the coast of New Zealand and Australia, I assigned to them, notwithstanding the presence of the saurian remains, an eocene tertiary age. However, as Dr Hector's researches have established the fact that all the principal genera and species of saurians found at the Amuri Bluff occur also at the Waipara, I have included for some years past the Waipara and Malvern. Hill beds in his cretaceo-tertiary formation, leaving it to further research, and to a careful examination of the fossils collected in those localities by a competent palssologist to settle this question finally.*

* One of my scientific friends in Australia informs me that true belemnites have been found there in tertiary strata, hitherto considered as being of Miocene age; but I think [unclear: f] confirmation is wanted before such an important occurrence can be accepted as a well-established.