Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands: petrology (Chapter 3.1b)

The Antarctic Peninsula contains a record of continental-margin volcanism extending from Jurassic to Recent times. Subduction of the Pacific oceanic lithosphere beneath the continental margin developed after Late Jurassic volcanism in Alexander Island that was related to extension of the continental margin. Mesozoic ocean-floor basalts emplaced within the Alexander Island accretionary complex have compositions derived from Pacific mantle. The Antarctic Peninsula volcanic arc was active from about Early Cretaceous times until the Early Miocene. It was affected by hydrothermal alteration, and by regional and contact metamorphism generally of zeolite to prehnite–pumpellyite facies. Distinct geochemical groups recognized within the volcanic rocks suggest varied magma generation processes related to changes in subduction dynamics. The four groups are: calc-alkaline, high-Mg andesitic, adakitic and high-Zr, the last two being described in this arc for the first time. The dominant calc-alkaline group ranges from primitive mafic magmas to rhyolite, and from low- to high-K in composition, and was generated from a mantle wedge with variable depletion. The high-Mg and adakitic rocks indicate periods of melting of the subducting slab and variable equilibration of the melts with mantle. The high-Zr group is interpreted as peralkaline and may have been related to extension of the arc.


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Published Online
Authors: Leat, Philip T., Riley, Teal R. ORCIDORCID record for Teal R. Riley

Editors: Smellie, J.L., Panter, K.S., Geyer, A.

On this site: Philip Leat, Teal Riley
17 February, 2021
In: Smellie, J.L., Panter, K.S., Geyer, A. (eds.). Volcanism in Antarctica: 200 million years of subduction, rifting and continental break-up, London, Geological Society of London,
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