Examination of loess columns in coastal South Canterbury, New Zealand, and the recognition of paleosols with comparable morphology to surface soils allowed the division of the loess column into six members. The upper loess members 1–4 are grouped into a proposed Dashing Rocks Formation. This commonly overlies an erosion surface on Timaru Basalt, but in some situations is underlain by loess member 5 and mixed loess and weathered basalt member 6. The paleosol developed on loess member 5, on both morphological and chemical evidence, is indicative of a period of soil formation of longer duration or greater intensity than is indicated by the overlying paleosols or surface soils. Therefore members 5 and 6 are grouped into a separate formation.
A radiocarbon chronology for loess members 1 and 2 of the Dashing Rocks Formation, suggests loess accumulation phases from 9900 to 11,800 and prior to 31,000 radiocarbon yr BP, followed by periods of soil formation and contemporary peat development in surface depressions.
A hypothesis is presented suggesting that at least loess members 1 and 2 of the Dashing Rocks Formation accumulated during periods of glacial recession which in turn precipitated fluvial and eolian erosion, transport and redeposition of fluvioglacial deposits. The periods of soil development indicated by the paleosols were initiated during warm interstadial conditions and continued throughout the cooling of the following stadial. Such an interpretation has its parallels in the northern hemisphere but is in slight disagreement with previous glacial and fluvioglacial chronologies accepted in New Zealand.