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Intraplate strike-slip tectonics as an alternative to mantle plume activity for the Cenozoic rift magmatism in the Ross Sea region, Antarctica

By
S. Rocchi
S. Rocchi
1
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Pisa Via S. Maria 53-56126 Pisa, Italy (rocchi@dst.unipi.it)
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F. Storti
F. Storti
2
Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche, Università Roma Tre Largo S. L. Murialdo 1-00146 Roma, Italy
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G. Di Vincenzo
G. Di Vincenzo
3
Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse, CNR Via Moruzzi 1 - 56124, Pisa, Italy
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F. Rossetti
F. Rossetti
2
Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche, Università Roma Tre Largo S. L. Murialdo 1-00146 Roma, Italy
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Published:
January 01, 2003

Abstract

The West Antarctic Rift System is one of the largest areas of crustal extension in the world. Current interpretations on its driving mechanisms mostly rely on the occurrence of one or more mantle plumes, active during the Cenozoic or the Mesozoic. Recent studies of structural-chronological relationships between emplacement of plutons, dyke swarms, and volcanic edifices since middle Eocene in northern Victoria Land imply that magma emplacement is guided by strike-slip fault systems that dissect the western rift shoulder in Victoria Land. These studies led to a critical re-examination of the arguments used to support plume models. In Victoria Land, the linear geometry of the uplift and the relative chronology of uplift and extension are inconsistent with the traditional concepts of lithospheric evolution above a mantle plume. The geochemical signature of the mafic rocks is equivocal, because both OIB and HIMU features cannot be exclusively interpreted in terms of plume activity. From a thermal point of view, magma production rates are low compared with the core part of plume-related provinces. Additionally, the hot mantle below the West Antarctic Rift System is not documented as deep as expected for mantle plumes and the shape of thermal anomaly is related to lithospheric geometry, being linear rather than having circular symmetry. The lack of any decisive evidence for plume activity is contrasted by evidence that large-scale tectonic features guide magma emplacement: the Cenozoic fault systems reactivated inherited Palaeozoic tectonic discontinuities and their activity is dynamically linked to the Southern Ocean Fracture Zones. As an alternative to both active, plume-driven rifting and passive rifting, we propose that lithospheric strike-slip deformation could have promoted transtension-related decompression melting of a subplate mantle already decompressed and veined during the late Cretaceous amagmatic extensional rift phase. Magma ascent and emplacement occurred along the main strike-slip fault systems and along the transtensional fault arrays departing from the master faults.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Intraplate Strike-Slip Deformation Belts

F. Storti
F. Storti
Università degli Studi “Roma Tre”, Rome, Italy
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R. E. Holdsworth
R. E. Holdsworth
Durham University, Durham, UK
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F. Salvini
F. Salvini
Università degli Studi “Roma Tre”, Rome, Italy
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Geological Society of London
Volume
210
ISBN electronic:
9781862394582
Publication date:
January 01, 2003

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