The Gondwanan margin in West Antarctica: insights from Late Triassic magmatism of the Antarctic Peninsula

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Joaquin Bastias, Richard Spikings, Alex Ulianov, Teal Riley, Alex Burton-Johnson, Massimo Chiaradia, Lukas Baumgartner, Francisco Hervé


Triassic orthogneisses of the Antarctic Peninsula provide evidence for the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic geological evolution of southern Gondwana within Pangaea. These rocks are sporadically exposed in southeastern Graham Land and northwestern Palmer Land, although reliable geochronological, geochemical and isotopic data are sparse. We combine new geochronological (LA-ICP-MS zircon U-Pb), geochemical, and zircon (Hf, O) and whole rock isotopic (Nd, Sr and Pb) data to constrain the age and Triassic – Palaeozoic tectonic setting of these rocks. Zircon cores record a Palaeozoic magmatic arc between 252.5 ± 2 and 527.8 ± 6.2 Ma, which was mainly located to the west of the Eastern Palmer Land Shear Zone (Central Domain; Vaughan and Storey, 2000). The arc is considered to be an extension of contemporaneous Palaeozoic arcs that have been identified along the Pacific margin of South America and the Thurston Island Block. Regions to the east of the Palmer Land Shear Zone (Eastern Domain, Vaughan and Storey, 2000) were located distal from the Terra Australis Margin, and possibly resided within Sunsas-aged belts within Pangaea. Triassic continental arc, calc-alkaline magmatism during 223.4 – 203.3 Ma modified the crust of the Antarctic Peninsula on both sides of the Eastern Palmer Land Shear Zone. Magmatic sources included igneous and sedimentary crustal material, which formed by crustal reworking during Sunsas- and Braziliano-aged orogenesis, and Palaeozoic arc magmatism. Arc magmatism accompanied sinistral extension which brought both domains into the arc and resulted in steady oceanward migration of the Triassic arc during the Middle – Late Triassic. We conclude that the Eastern Palmer Land Shear Zone formed in the Triassic, and that both the Eastern and Central Domains are autochthonous to Gondwana.



Earth Sciences, Geochemistry, Geology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Tectonics and Structure


Antarctica, Andean margin, Hf isotopes, Shetlands


Published: 2019-07-31 21:46

Last Updated: 2020-04-05 14:03

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