|Classification:||Clay Mine Room and Pillar Mining|
|Dimension:||A=426 m asl.|
A. Cook, S. Hocknull, K. Spring (2002):
Report of the Mount Morgan Clay Caverns Dinosaur Footprints and Trackways Site,
Queensland Museum, November 2002.
Mount Morgan Historical Railway and Visitor Information Centre, Railway Ave, Mount Morgan, Q 4714, Phone: +61-7-4938-2312.
TMC Tours, 45 East Street Extd, Mount Morgan 4714, Tel: +61-409-815-033. E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1886||clay mine opened by Mount Morgan Gold Mining Co Ltd.|
|1925||clay mine closed.|
|1952||first footprints discovered by a survey team working to the north of the open cut mine.|
|1954||analysed by geologist H.R.E. Staines, B.Sc..|
|09-MAR-1965||Plesiosaurus fossils discovered nearby.|
|2010||walkways and stairs constructed and opened to the public.|
|OCT-2011||closed for security reasons.|
Fire Clay Caverns is, despite the name and the looks, not a cave but a mine. Mount Morgan is an old mining town, and here the clay for firebrick making was mined. Many old buildings in Mount Morgan are constructed from such bricks.
Cave hill is the location where 61 m thick layers of Jurassic and Cretaceous sediments, sandstone and shale, are found. A part of this bed is a 18 m thick bed of fine gray shale, which was mined. The mining started open cast and later followed the clay underground. Here the clay was mined in the old room and pillar method, where some clay was removed in form of stripes, which changed with untouched layers. The result are huge halls with regular huge pillars supporting the ceiling. The Fireclay Mines have the same form, and so they are rather well lit by light entering the huge cavern through dozens of openings in the cliff face.
For some people the mining and the caverns are the most important thing, but others like the dinosaur tracks most. The story is simple: during the heyday of the dinosaurs, at the end of the Jurassic and the beginning of the Cretaceous, this area was covered by clay deposits. Dinosaurs walking through left footprints, which dried in the sun, were filled by the next layer of sand or clay and thus petrified in some sort. There is no real fossil, just a form preserved in rock.
The footprints are found all over the ceiling of the 12 m high and 6 m wide chambers. The fine-grained argillaceous sandstone which covered the footprints forms the roof of the chambers, the footprints are voluminous, as they are not the footprints themselves, but the material which filled them. It seems the footprints were not found during the mining activities, as they stopped below. But the lowest layers of the roof eroded in subsequent years and revealed the footprints.
The old mine has been developed, with raised wooden tracks and doors in front of the cave openings. The visit of the Fire Clay Caverns is part of a day tour by TMC Tours, TMC is the abbreviation of Town, Mine, and Cave. The tour includes the town with historic buildings, a dam, and a recently constructed suspension bridge. The former gold and copper mine is seen from the Arthur Timms Lookout and a special viewing platform at the rim of the open cut mine. And the last stop is the visit to the clay mines and dinosaur tracks.
During 18 months in 2010 and 2011 three rockfalls have occurred. As a result the site has been closed by the government for security reasons. But the local economy is rather dependent on the income from the tourists and so the locals want to reopen the mine. Update 2021: the locals still request the government to reopen the site but so far with no result. As always the problem is money, the cost of making the mine safe are too big for the small town.