Intraplate strike-slip tectonics as an alternative to mantle plume activity for the Cenozoic rift magmatism in the Ross Sea region, Antarctica
S. Rocchi, F. Storti, G. Di Vincenzo, F. Rossetti, 2003. "Intraplate strike-slip tectonics as an alternative to mantle plume activity for the Cenozoic rift magmatism in the Ross Sea region, Antarctica", Intraplate Strike-Slip Deformation Belts, F. Storti, R. E. Holdsworth, F. Salvini
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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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Intraplate Strike-Slip Deformation Belts
Intraplate strike-slip deformation belts are common tectonic features, particularly at convergent plate boundaries, where they are produced by both oblique convergence and continental indentation. These lithosphere-scale structures, which also occur in other geodynamic environments such as passive margins, are characterized by complex structural architectures, by the occurrence of large earthquakes, and by the fast uplift and/or subsidence of localized crustal sectors.
Intraplate strike-slip belts can also control the ascent and emplacement of deeply sourced magmas. In some cases, intraplate strike-slip belts link with oceanic fracture zones and transform faults, transferring transform shear from the ridges to the interior of the plates. This evidence has an important impact of the classical concept of transform faulting.
This volume contains 13 papers from an international field of contributors. Studies of intraplate strike-slip deformation belts from Africa, Antarctica, Eurasia, North America and South America are included.