Fireclay Caverns

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Fireclay Caverns are located in the heritage-listed Mount Morgan Mine site in Queensland, Australia.

The Fireclay Caverns were excavated by the Mount Morgan Mine to provide clay for its brickworks resulting in very large openings that measure between 4–12 metres in height from the cave floor.[1] Excavation of the caverns ceased when the mine brickworks were decommissioned in the early 1900s.[2] Erosion revealed dinosaur footprints (preserved as infills) being discovered in 1954.[2] To date, nine different ceiling sections of the Fireclay Caverns have been recognised as containing dinosaur footprints. These have been dated to the Early Jurassic (Sinemurian) ~195 million years ago.[1] Walkways and stairs had been constructed in 2010 to provide access to the dinosaur footprints [3] as part of the mine site tours. The site was closed to access in 2011 due to ceiling erosion posing a significant risk to public safety.[1]

History[edit]

The Fireclay Caverns were excavated to supply clay to brickworks of the Mount Morgan Mine. Clay was mined from within the caverns by pick and shovel, then transferred by underground rail to a brickworks lower in the Mount Morgan Mine site. Excavation from the caverns ceased when their clay was no longer required by the mine.

Dinosaur footprints[edit]

After cavern excavations ceased, clay progressively fell from the cavern ceilings, revealing rock ceilings above. In 1953, HRE Staines, a Mount Morgan Limited geologist, identified dinosaur footprints in the rock ceilings.[4] Over 300 such footprints have been identified on the cavern ceilings[5][6] dated to the Early Jurassic (Sinemurian) ~195 million years ago.[7]

Bent-wing bat colony[edit]

After cavern excavations ceased, a colony of bent-wing bats began inhabiting the caverns. The sections of the caverns containing the bats are inaccessible to protect the bat habitat.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Romilio, Anthony; Dick, Roslyn; Skinner, Heather; Millar, Janice (13 February 2020). "Archival data provides insights into the ambiguous track-maker gait from the Lower Jurassic (Sinemurian) Razorback beds, Queensland, Australia: evidence of theropod quadrupedalism?". Historical Biology. 0: 1–7. doi:10.1080/08912963.2020.1720014. ISSN 0891-2963.
  2. ^ a b Staines, HRE (1954). "Dinosaur footprints at Mount Morgan". Queensland Government Mining Journal. 55 (623): 483–485.
  3. ^ "Queensland Government: Mines and Energy: Mount Morgan Mine Site Quarterly Update: April-June 2010" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  4. ^ "Queensland Government: Mines and Energy: Mount Morgan Mine Rehabilitation Project: Project Summary" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 March 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  5. ^ Cook, AG; Saini, N. "Dinosaur footprints from the Lower Jurassic of Mount Morgan, Queensland". Mem Queensl Mus—Nature. 55 (1): 135–146.
  6. ^ Saini, N (2005). Geology and palaeo-ichnology of the Razorback beds, Mount Morgan, Queensland [Thesis]. University of Wollongong.
  7. ^ Romilio, Anthony (20 April 2020). "Additional notes on the Mount Morgan dinosaur tracks from the Lower Jurassic (Sinemurian) Razorback beds, Queensland, Australia". Historical Biology. 0: 1–3. doi:10.1080/08912963.2020.1755853. ISSN 0891-2963.