Anomalously high heat flow regions beneath the Transantarctic Mountains and Wilkes Subglacial Basin in East Antarctica inferred from Curie depth

The Transantarctic Mountains (TAM) separate the warmer lithosphere of the Cretaceous-Tertiary West Antarctic rift system and the colder and older provinces of East Antarctica. Low velocity zones beneath the TAM imaged in recent seismological studies have been interpreted as warm low-density mantle material, suggesting a strong contribution of thermal support to the uplift of the TAM. We present new Curie Point Depth (CPD) and geothermal heat flow (GHF) maps of the northern TAM and adjacent Wilkes Subglacial Basin (WSB) based exclusively on high resolution magnetic airborne measurements. We find shallow CPD and high GHF beneath the northern TAM, reinforcing the hypothesis of thermal support of the topography of the mountain range. Additionally, this study demonstrates, that limiting spectral analysis to areas with a high density of aeromagnetic measurements increases the resolution of CPD estimates revealing localized shallow CPD and associated high heat flow in the Central Basin of the WSB and the Rennick Graben. Across the study area the CPD ranges from 15 to 35 km and the GHF values range from 30 to 110 mW/m2. The recovered CPD range is compatible with recent Moho depth estimates, as the CPD predominantly lies within the crust, rather than in the magnetite-poor mantle. GHF estimates, based on the CPD estimates, show a good agreement to sparse in situ GHF measurements and the location of active volcanoes. Comparison to existing continent-wide GHF estimates shows strong differences from magnetically-derived heat flow estimates, while seismologically-derived heat flow estimates show the best agreement to our results.


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Authors: Lowe, Maximilian ORCIDORCID record for Maximilian Lowe, Mather, Ben, Green, Chris, Jordan, Tom A. ORCIDORCID record for Tom A. Jordan, Ebbing, Jörg, Larter, Robert ORCIDORCID record for Robert Larter

On this site: Maximilian Lowe, Robert Larter, Tom Jordan
3 January, 2023
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth / 128
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