Gneiss Dome architecture: Investigation of Form and Process in the Fosdick Mountains, W. Antarctica
This project will study migmatite domes found in the Fosdick Mountains of the Ford Ranges, western Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica. This area offers unique, three-dimensional exposures that may offer new insight into dome formation, which is a fundamental process of mountain building. These domes are derived from sedimentary and plutonic protoliths that are complexly interfolded at decimeter to kilometer scales. Preliminary findings from geobarometry and U-Pb monazite dating of anatexite suggest that peak metamorphism was underway at 105 Ma at crustal depths of ~25 km, followed by decompression as the Fosdick dome was emplaced to 16-17 km, or possibly as low as 8.5 km, in the crust by 99 Ma. Near-isothermal conditions were maintained during ascent, favorable for producing substantial volumes of melt through biotite-dehydration melting. This dome has been interpreted as a product of extensional exhumation. This is a viable interpretation from the regional standpoint, because the dome was emplaced in mid-Cretaceous time during the rapid onset of divergent tectonics along the proto- Pacific margin of Gondwana. However, the complex internal structures of the Fosdick Mountains have yet to be considered and may be more consistent with alternative intepretations such as upward extrusion within a contractional setting or lateral flow within a transcurrent attachment zone. This proposal is for detailed structural analysis, paired with geothermobarometry and geochronology, to determine the flow behavior and structural style that produced the internal architecture of the Fosdick dome. The results will improve our general understanding of the role of gneiss domes in transferring material and heat during mountain-building, and will characterize the behavior of the middle crust during a time of rapid transition from divergent to convergent tectonics along the active margin of Gondwana. In terms of broader impacts, this work will train undergraduate and graduate students, and involve them as collaborators in the development of curricular materials. It will also foster mentoring relationships between graduate and undergraduate students.
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