Episodic silicic volcanism in Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula: Chronology of magmatism associated with the break-up of Gondwana
New SHRIMP U–Pb zircon, Rb–Sr whole-rock, and 40Ar–39Ar data are presented for the Jurassic silicic volcanic rocks and related granitoids of Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula. U–Pb is the only reliable method for dating crystallization in these rocks; Rb–Sr is prone to hydrothermal resetting and Ar–Ar is additionally affected by initial excess 40Ar. Volcanism spanned more than 30 My, but three episodes are defined on the basis of peak activity: V1 (188–178 Ma), V2 (172–162 Ma) and V3 (157–153 Ma). The first essentially coincides with the Karoo–Ferrar mafic magmatism of South Africa, Antarctica and Tasmania. The silicic products of V1 are lower-crustal melts that have incorporated upper-crustal material. The geochemistry of V2 and V3 ignimbrites is more characteristic of destructive plate margins, but the presence of inherited zircon still points to a crustal source. The pattern of volcanism corresponds in space and in time to migration away from the Karoo mantle plume towards the proto-Pacific margin of Gondwana during rifting and break-up. The heat required to initiate bulk crustal fusion may have been supplied by the spreading plume-head, but thinning of the crust during continental dispersion would also have facilitated anatexis.