Depositional and tectonic setting of the Archean Moodies Group, Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa

Precambrian Res. 1994;68:257-90. doi: 10.1016/0301-9268(94)90033-7.


The 3.22-3.10 Ga old Moodies Group, uppermost unit of the Swaziland Supergroup in the Barberton Greenstone Belt (BGB), is the oldest exposed, well-preserved quartz-rich sedimentary sequence on earth. It is preserved in structurally separate blocks in a heavily deformed fold-and-thrust belt. North of the Inyoka Fault, Moodies strata reach up to 3700 m in thickness. Detailed mapping, correlation of measured sections, and systematic analysis of paleocurrents show that the lower Moodies Group north of the Inyoka Fault forms a deepening- and fining-upward sequence from a basal alluvial conglomerate through braided fluvial, tidal, and deltaic sandstones to offshore sandy shelf deposits. The basal conglomerate and overlying fluvial facies were derived from the north and include abundant detritus eroded from underlying Fig Tree Group dacitic volcanic rocks. Shoreline-parallel transport and extensive reworking dominate overlying deltaic, tidal, and marine facies. The lithologies and arrangement of Moodies Group facies, sandstone petrology, the unconformable relationship between Moodies strata and older deformed rocks, presence of at least one syndepositional normal fault, and presence of basaltic flow rocks and airfall fall tuffs interbedded with the terrestrial strata collectively suggest that the lower Moodies Group was deposited in one or more intramontane basins in an extensional setting. Thinner Moodies sections south of the Inyoka Fault, generally less than 1000 m thick, may be correlative with the basal Moodies Group north of the Inyoka Fault and were probably deposited in separate basins. A northerly derived, southward-thinning fan-delta conglomerate in the upper part of the Moodies Group in the central BGB overlies lower strata with an angular unconformity. This and associated upper Moodies conglomerates mark the beginning of basin shortening by south- to southeast-directed thrust faulting along the northern margin of the BGB and suggest that the upper Moodies Group was deposited in a foreland basin. Timing, orientation, and style of shortening suggest that this deformation eventually incorporated most of the BGB into a major fold-and-thrust belt.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum Silicates / analysis
  • Clay
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis*
  • Geological Phenomena
  • Geology*
  • Minerals / analysis
  • Paleontology
  • Quartz / analysis
  • Silicates / analysis
  • Silicon Dioxide / analysis
  • South Africa


  • Aluminum Silicates
  • Minerals
  • Silicates
  • basalt
  • Quartz
  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Clay