Abstract

The West Antarctic rift system differs from other volcanically active rift systems in two unusual respects: (1) the rift floor lies 1000–2000 m lower in elevation than others, and (2) four interior ice-filled troughs extend between 1500 m and 2555 m below sea level. Two troughs are more than twice the depth of Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake. The Marie Byrd Land dome, by contrast, compares closely with the intra-rift Kenyan and Ethiopian domes in the East African rift. Comparisons between these rift systems suggest (1) that the West Antarctic interior is relatively cool and volcanically inactive, (2) that there is likely to have been an episode of extension during Neogene time in the deep interior basins, and (3) that dome uplift and basin subsidence have greatly changed the West Antarctic landscape over the past 25 m.y.

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