Constraints on the Tectonomagmatic Evolution of the Pacific Margin of Gondwana from U-Pb Geochronology of Magmatic Rocks in the Transantarctic Basement
Encarnaci_n OPP 9615398 Abstract Basement rocks of the Transantarctic Mountains are believed to record a change in the paleo-Pacific margin of Gondwana from a rifted passive margin to a tectonically active margin (Ross orogen). Recent hypothesis suggest that the passive margin phase resulted from Neoproterozoic rifting of Laurentia from Antarctica ("SWEAT" hypothesis). The succeeding active margin phase (Ross orogeny) was one of several tectonic events ("Pan African" events) that resulted from plate convergence/transpression that was probably a consequence of the assembly of components of the Gondwana supercontinent. Although these basement units provide one of the keys for understanding the break up and assembly of these major continental masses, few precise ages are available to address the following important issues: (1) Is there any pre-rift high-grade cratonal basement exposed along the Transantarctic Mountains, and what is/are its precise age? Is this age compatible with a Laurentia connection? (2) What is the age of potential rift/passive margin sediments (Beardmore Group) along the Queen Maud Mountains sector of the orogen? (3) What is the relative and absolute timing of magmatism and contractional deformation of supracrustal units in the orogen? Was deformation diachronous and thus possibly related to transpressional tectonics, or did it occur in a discrete pulse that is more compatible with a collision? How does contraction of the orogen fit in with emplacement of voluminous plutonic and volcanic rocks? The answers to these questions are central to understanding the kinematic evolution of this major orogenic belt and its role in Neoproterozoic-Early Paleozoic continental reconstructions and plate kinematics. Hence, this award supports funding for precise U-Pb dating, using zircon, monazite, baddeleyite, and/or titanite from a variety of magmatic rocks in the Queen Ma ud Mountains, which can address the foregoing problems. In addition to the issues above, precise dating of volcanics that are interbedded with carbonates containing probable Middle Cambrian fauna could potentially provide a calibration point for the Middle Cambrian, which will fill a gap in the absolute time scale for the early Paleozoic.
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