Abstract

Field observations from the Trinity Peninsula Group at View Point on the Antarctic Peninsula indicate that thick, southward-younging and overturned clastic sedimentary rocks, comprising unusually coarse conglomeratic lenses within a succession of fine-grained sandstone–mudstone couplets, are the deposits of debris and turbidity flows on or at the foot of a submarine slope. Three detrital zircons from the sandstone–mudstone couplets date deposition at 302 ± 3 Ma, at or shortly after the Carboniferous–Permian boundary. Conglomerates predominantly consist of quartzite and granite and contain boulders exceeding 500 mm in diameter. Zircons from granitoid clasts and a silicic volcanic clast yield U–Pb ages of 466 ± 3 Ma, 373 ± 5 Ma and 487 ± 4 Ma, respectively and have corresponding average εHft values between +0.3 and +7.6. A quartzite clast, conglomerate matrix and sandstone interbedded with the conglomerate units have broadly similar detrital zircon age distributions and Hf isotope compositions. The clast and detrital zircon ages match well with sources within Patagonia; however, the age of one granite clast and the εHf characteristics of some detrital zircons point to a lesser South Africa or Ellsworth Mountain-like contribution, and the quartzite and granite-dominated composition of the conglomerates is similar to upper Palaeozoic diamictites in the Ellsworth Mountains. Unlike detrital zircons, large conglomerate clasts limit possible transport distance, and suggest sedimentation took place on or near the edge of continental crust. Comparison with other upper Palaeozoic to Mesozoic sediments in the Antarctic Peninsula and Patagonia, including detrital zircon composition and the style of deformation, suggests deposition of the Trinity Peninsula Group in an upper plate basin on an active margin, rather than a subduction-related accretionary setting, with slow extension and rifting punctuated by short periods of compression.

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