Project Information
Collaborative Research:Application of Detrital Zircon Isotope Characteristics and Sandstone Analysis of Beacon Strata to the Tectonic Evolution of the Antarctic Sector of Gondwana
Intellectual Merit:
The goal of this project is to address relationships between foreland basins and their tectonic settings by combining detrital zircon isotope characteristics and sedimentological data. To accomplish this goal the PIs will develop a detailed geochronology and analyze Hf- and O-isotopes of detrital zircons in sandstones of the Devonian Taylor Group and the Permian-Triassic Victoria Group. These data will allow them to better determine provenance and basin fill, and to understand the nature of the now ice covered source regions in East and West Antarctica. The PIs will document possible unexposed/unknown crustal terrains in West Antarctica, investigate sub-glacial terrains of East Antarctica that were exposed to erosion during Devonian to Triassic time, and determine the evolving provenance and tectonic history of the Devonian to Triassic Gondwana basins in the central Transantarctic Mountains. Detrital zircon data will be interpreted in the context of fluvial dispersal/drainage patterns, sandstone petrology, and sequence stratigraphy. This interpretation will identify source terrains and evolving sediment provenances. Paleocurrent analysis and sequence stratigraphy will determine the timing and nature of changing tectonic conditions associated with development of the depositional basins and document the tectonic history of the Antarctic sector of Gondwana. Results from this study will answer questions about the Panthalassan margin of Gondwana, the Antarctic craton, and the Beacon depositional basin and their respective roles in global tectonics and the geologic and biotic history of Antarctica. The Beacon basin and adjacent uplands played an important role in the development and demise of Gondwanan glaciation through modification of polar climates, development of peat-forming mires, colonization of the landscape by plants, and were a migration route for Mesozoic vertebrates into Antarctica.

Broader impacts:
This proposal includes support for two graduate students who will participate in the fieldwork, and also support for other students to participate in laboratory studies. Results of the research will be incorporated in classroom teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels and will help train the next generation of field geologists. Interactions with K-12 science classes will be achieved by video/computer conferencing and satellite phone connections from Antarctica. Another outreach effort is the developing cooperation between the Byrd Polar Research Center and the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus.
Person Role
Elliot, David Investigator
Isbell, John Investigator
Antarctic Earth Sciences Award # 0944662
Antarctic Earth Sciences Award # 0944532
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
Not provided
Repository Title (link) Format(s) Status
PRR Rock Samples (full data link not provided) None exist
  1. Limarino, C. O., Césari, S. N., Spalletti, L. A., Taboada, A. C., Isbell, J. L., Geuna, S., & Gulbranson, E. L. (2014). A paleoclimatic review of southern South America during the late Paleozoic: A record from icehouse to extreme greenhouse conditions. Gondwana Research, 25(4), 1396–1421. (doi:10.1016/
  2. Henry, L. C., Isbell, J. L., & Limarino, C. O. (2014). The late Paleozoic El Imperial Formation, western Argentina: Glacial to post-glacial transition and stratigraphic correlations with arc-related basins in southwestern Gondwana. Gondwana Research, 25(4), 1380–1395. (doi:10.1016/
  3. Elliot, D. H., Fanning, C. M., & Laudon, T. S. (2016). The Gondwana Plate margin in the Weddell Sea sector: Zircon geochronology of Upper Paleozoic (mainly Permian) strata from the Ellsworth Mountains and eastern Ellsworth Land, Antarctica. Gondwana Research, 29(1), 234–247. (doi:10.1016/
  4. Gulbranson, E. L., Isbell, J. L., Montañez, I. P., Limarino, C. O., Marenssi, S. A., Meyer, K., & Hull, C. (2014). Reassessment of mid-Carboniferous glacial extent in southwestern Gondwana (Rio Blanco Basin, Argentina) inferred from paleo-mass transport of diamictites. Gondwana Research, 25(4), 1369–1379. (doi:10.1016/
  5. Elliot, D. H., & Isbell, J. L. (2021). A mass transport deposit in the Permian Mackellar Formation, Victoria Group, Antarctica. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 1–21. (doi:10.1080/00288306.2020.1868538)
Platforms and Instruments

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