Abstract

The early stages of transform margin formation are associated with crustal fragmentation and block rotation. The restricted size of the resultant microcontinental blocks precludes palaeogeographic reconstructions and reliable estimations of the amount of rotation they can undergo. An example considered here is the Falkland Plateau. This is located adjacent to the Agulhas-Falkland Fracture Zone/Transform and its westernmost province is the Falkland Islands microcontinent. The position of the plateau and the islands prior to Gondwana break-up remains contentious. This study integrates seismic reflection and gravity data to propose a revised position of the Falkland Islands microcontinent constrained by: (a) the presence of a mega-décollement, controlling the Gondwanide Orogen, described north of the Falkland Islands and underneath South Africa and Outeniqua Basin, and (b) the similar architecture of fault networks mapped north of the islands and in the northernmost Outeniqua Basin. This revised position requires a re-evaluation of the timing and rate of rotation of the Falkland Islands microcontinent and impacts the expected crustal architecture adjacent to the islands. Our model yields rotation rates between 5.5° and 8° Myr-1, two potential times for rotation and predicts more unstretched crust beneath the basin east of the Falkland Islands than previous models.

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