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Abstract

Palaeostresses inferred from approximately 3200 brittle mesostructures measured at 43 sites in Signy Island show a stress field characterized by compressional, strike-slip and extensional stress states. There is a dominant NW–SE horizontal compression direction as well as three (NNW–SSE, WNW–ESE and ENE–WSW) secondary σ1 horizontal stress directions. Orientation of σ3 shows a main mode trending NW–SE together with secondary north–south and NE–SW extensional stress directions. The NNW–SSE horizontal compression is consistent with the stretching–shearing direction defined from the fold-axis trend. This is owing to a subduction-related tectonic regime during early to middle Jurassic times. In middle Jurassic/early Cretaceous times, the tectonic regime changes to extensional with north–south extensional stress directions. The early processes of subduction of the northern sector of the Weddell Sea oceanic crust below the South Orkney Microcontinent, from the Paleocene until the middle Miocene, is related to the σ1 direction WNW–ESE to NW–SE. The spreading of Powell Basin took place from the late Eocene to the early Miocene and is the cause of east–west and NE–SW extensional processes in the southern South Orkney Microcontinent. Finally, the NW–SE σ3 direction is related to the current left-lateral strike-slip movement between the Scotia and Antarctic plates.

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