Southernmost Andes and South Georgia Island, North Scotia Ridge: Zircon U-Pb and muscovite 40Ar/39Ar age constraints on tectonic evolution of Southwestern Gondwanaland

S.B. Mukasa, I.W.D. Dalziel

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Abstract

Zircon U-Pb and muscovite 40Ai/39Ar isotopic ages have been determined on rocks from the southernmost Andes and South Georgia Island, North Scotia Ridge, to provide absolute time constraints on the kinematic evolution of southwestern Gondwanaland, until now known mainly from stratigraphic relations. The U-Pb systematics of four zircon fractions from one sample show that proto-marginal basin magmatism in the northern Scotia arc, creating the peraluminous Darwin granite suite and submarine rhyolite sequences of the Tobifera Formation, had begun by the Middle Jurassic (164.1 ±1.7 Ma). Seven zircon fractions from two other Darwin granites are discordant with non-linear patterns, suggesting a complex history of inheritances and Pb loss. Reference lines drawn through these points on concordia diagrams give upper intercept ages of ca. 1500 Ma, interpreted as a minimum age for the inherited zircon component. This component is believed to have been derived from sedimentary rocks in the Gondwanaland margin accretionary wedge that forms the basement of the region, or else directly from the cratonic "back stop" of that wedge. Ophiolitic remnants of the Rocas Verdes marginal basin preserved in the Larsen Harbour complex on South Georgia yield the first clear evidence that Gondwanaland fragmentation had resulted in the formation of oceanic crust in the Weddell Sea region by the Late Jurassic (150 ±1 Ma). The geographic pattern in the observed age range of 8 to 13 million years in these ophiolitic materials, while not definitive, is in keeping with propagation of the marginal basin floor northwestward from South Georgia Island to the Sarmiento Complex in southern Chile. Rocks of the Beagle granite suite, emplaced post-tectonically within the uplifted marginal basin floor, have complex zircon U-Pb systematics with gross discordances dominated by inheritances in some samples and Pb loss in others. Of eleven samples processed, only two had sufficient amounts of zircon for multiple fractions, and only one yielded colinear points. These points lie close to the lower concordia intercept for which the age is 68.9 ±1.0 Ma, but their upper intercept is not well known. Inas-much as this age is similar to the 40Ar/39Ar age of secondary muscovite growing in extensional fractures of pulled-apart feld× spar phenocrysts in a Beagle suite granitic pluton (plateau age is 68.1 ±0.4 Ma), we interpret the two dates as good time constraints for cooling following a period of extensional deformation probably related to the tectonic denudation of the high-grade metamorphic complex of Cordillera Darwin in Tierra del Fuego. Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd & Earth Sciences & Resources Institute.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-365
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of South American Earth Sciences
Volume9
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 1996

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Export Date: 3 November 2016

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