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The synrift and breakup stages of the Pelotas basin in southeast Brazil are characterized by scarce siliciclastic deposits and widespread volcanism in the form of seaward-dipping reflectors (SDRs). Using high-quality seismic reflection and refraction profiles integrated with gravity, magnetics, and exploratory boreholes, a volcanostratigraphic analysis has been undertaken to understand the geological processes observed during the rifting and breakup stages of this segment of the South Atlantic continental margin. Ten volcanic units have been identified and mapped within the extended continental crust and into the transitional and oceanic crusts. The magmatic cycle began during the early synrift stage, with alkaline, high TiO2 basalts produced at 125 Ma. This was followed by the formation of a series of voluminous tholeiitic, high TiO2 SDR wedges during the late synrift and breakup stages. The end of the breakup process was marked by flat-lying, late synrift/early postrift, tholeiitic, low TiO2 basalts at 118 Ma. During the Late Cretaceous and Early Paleogene, the magmatic activity continued only in the oceanic crust, forming igneous intrusions (volcanic cones or seamounts).

A comparison between the Pelotas basin and the Lüderitz and Walvis basins offshore Namibia is discussed by integrating regional geological maps, potential field methods, seismic data, and results of exploratory drilling. The SDR province in the Pelotas basin coincides geographically with the Paraná basin continental flood basalts onshore Brazil, which crop out near the coastline. This makes the Pelotas basin an ideal place to understand the relationships between the tectonic-magmatic events that preceded and continued during the Gondwana breakup, which resulted in the development of continental margin rift basins and the formation of the South Atlantic Ocean.

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