Abstract

Long-lived continental margin arcs are characterized by episodes of large-volume magmatism (or flare-ups) that can persist for ∼30 m.y. before steady-state arc conditions resume. Flare-up events are characterized by the emplacement of large-volume granodiorite-tonalite batholiths and sometimes associated rhyodacitic ignimbrites. One of the major flare-up events of the West Gondwana margin occurred during the mid-Cretaceous and was temporally and spatially associated with widespread deformation and Pacific plate reorganization. New U-Pb geochronology from the Lassiter Coast intrusive suite in the southern Antarctic Peninsula identifies a major magmatic event in the interval 130–102 Ma that was characterized by three distinct peaks in granitoid emplacement at 130–126 Ma, 118–113 Ma, and 108–102 Ma, with clear lulls in between. Mid-Cretaceous magmatism from elsewhere in West Antarctica, Patagonia, and New Zealand also featured marked episodicity during the mid-Cretaceous and recorded remarkable continuity along the West Gondwana margin. The three distinct magmatic events represent second-order episodicity relative to the primary episodicity that occurred on a cordillera scale and is a feature of the North and South American Pacific margin. Flare-up events require the development of a highly fusible, lower-crustal layer resulting from the continued underplating of hydrous mineralogies in the melt-fertile lower crust as a result of long-lived subduction. However, the actual trigger for melting is likely to result from external, potentially tectonic factors, e.g., rifting, plate reorganization, continental breakup, or mantle plumes.

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