The Cordillera Darwin Metamorphic Complex in the southernmost Andes includes a basement of probable Palaeozoic age, a mid-Jurassic and younger volcano-sedimentary cover, and a suite of Jurassic granites, all of which were jointly metamorphosed during the Cretaceous. Detrital zircon ages presented here show that some of the amphibolite-facies metamorphic rocks previously mapped as basement have a Jurassic protolith. Overall the detrital zircon age patterns for samples of the Cordillera Darwin basement differ from those of the Madre de Dios Terrane of the western Patagonian Andes with which they had been correlated; instead, they are more comparable with those from the Eastern Andes Metamorphic Complex, which apparently developed in a passive margin setting. The paucity of Cambrian detrital zircons indicates that the meta-igneous basement of the Magallanes foreland basin of central and northern Tierra del Fuego was not the main source of detritus for the protolith of the Cordillera Darwin Metamorphic Complex. The possibility is envisaged that the Magallanes Fagnano transform fault boundary between the Scotia and South America plates resulted from reactivation of an older, pre-Jurassic suture zone between the basement terranes of north–central Tierra del Fuego and Cordillera Darwin.
Geographical coordinates of analysed samples, sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe U–Th–Pb analytical data and representative cathodoluminescence images of zircon grains analysed are available at http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18397.