Abstract

The central part of the Transantarctic Mountain chain consists of a basement complex of igneous and metamorphic rocks overlain nonconformably by sedimentary rocks of late Paleozoic age, including Permian tillites and coal measures. The basement complex is exceptionally well exposed in the Wisconsin Range of the Horlick Mountains, which are located about 500 km from the South Pole. In this area clastic metasedimentary rocks and overlying metavolcanic rocks of probable pyroclastic origin are intruded by a variety of granitic rocks of the Wisconsin Range batholith, including rapakivi granites and quartz diorites, which are in turn cut by bodies of quartz monzonite, and aplite and pegmatite dikes. The basement complex elsewhere in the central Transantarctic Mountains also includes Cambrian limestones overlain by acid volcanic pyroclastic rocks and lava flows.Age determinations by the Rb–Sr method applied to suites of total rock specimens suggest the presence of two orogenic events accompanied by intrusions of granitic plutons. The first of these occurred about 630 ± 25 m.y. ago and was accompanied by the formation of rapakivi granites. The second took place during the Ordovician Period about 480 ± 10 m.y. ago and involved the intrusion of quartz monzonite and pegmatite dikes. The metasedimentary rocks, which were intruded by both of the granitic rocks, give an apparent age of 460 ± 16 m.y., while the overlying pyroclastic unit was dated at 633 ± 13 m.y. A Precambrian age for the metasedimentary and metavolcanic rocks is consistent with the dating and the field evidence. Rhyolites from localities in the Byrd Mountains and the Long Hills were dated at 489 ± 30 and 498 ± 45 m.y. and are late Cambrian to early Ordovician in age.

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