New 40Ar/39Ar data indicate ages of c. 185 Ma for the Lonco Trapial volcanic field in Gastre, north–central Patagonia, implying that this andesitic unit is roughly coeval with the Marifil silicic province that crops out in the eastern part of northern Patagonia. These volcanic fields are therefore roughly coeval with the Karoo–Ferrar large igneous province, further contributing to the huge, 185–180 Ma magmatic outpouring in southern Gondwana. The comparison of palaeomagnetic results from the unit with Early Jurassic reference palaeopoles suggests that Gastre records a small, anticlockwise finite rotation with respect to stable South America. This contrasts sharply with the large clockwise rotation recorded by roughly coeval dolerites from the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, and argues against a direct relationship between the rotation of the islands and the tectonic activity in Gastre. The results support previous suggestions that the Gastre Fault System is not the locus of major strike-slip displacement activity in the Jurassic as some workers have suggested. Taken as a whole, palaeomagnetic data from Patagonia suggest a more complex than previously thought pattern of distributed and variable deformation during the early stages of Gondwana breakup. The crustal block boundaries in the region remain cryptic.
40Ar/39Ar analytical procedures and expanded data are available at http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18522.