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The development of the Transantarctic Mountains was initiated with the rifting of Rodinia and the formation of a late Neoproterozoic passive continental margin. In Cambrian time this rift setting evolved into an active margin with batholith emplacement into deformed and lightly metamorphosed upper Neoproterozoic–Cambrian strata, creating the Ross Orogen. Denudation and erosion of the Ross Orogen led to the formation of the pre-Devonian Kukri Erosion Surface on which Devonian quartzose sandstones accumulated in a continental setting. Palaeozoic magmatic arcs were intermittently active along the distal Panthalassan margin. Intra-cratonic basins developed in Permian time, one of which evolved into a foreland basin clearly related to a Permo-Triassic magmatic arc. The Palaeozoic–early Mesozoic arcs can be traced into both Australasia and South America. In Early Jurassic time the margin migrated outboard simultaneously with the advent of proximal silicic volcanism, emplacement of the Ferrar Large Igneous Province and Gondwana break-up. These events marked the onset of plate margin reorganization, and with it the early uplift of the Transantarctic Mountains. During Cretaceous and later time episodic uplift of the Transantarctic Mountains was accompanied by formation of a major crustal and lithospheric boundary marking the edge of the East Antarctic craton and the regions of crustal attenuation in the Ross (West Antarctic Rift System) and Weddell embayments.

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