Geochemistry and tectonic setting of alkaline volcanic rocks in the Antarctic Peninsula: A review
The numerous Miocene-Recent alkaline volcanic outcrops in the Antarctic Peninsula form a substantial volcanic province, the least well-known part of a major belt of alkaline volcanism that extends between South America and New Zealand. The outcrops consists mainly of aa and pahoehoe lavas and hyaloclastites which locally contain accidental nodules of spinel lherzolite and other mantle-derived lithologies. The province is predominantly basaltic with two major differentiation lineages: (1) a sodic series of olivine and alkali basalt, hawaiite, mugearite, trachy-phonolite and trachyte; and (2) a relatively potassic, highly undersaturated series of basanite, tephrite and phono-tephrite. All the lavas show varying effects of fractionation by crystallization of olivine and clinopyroxene, joined by plagioclase in the hawaiites to trachytes. Fractional crystallization can probably explain most of the chemical variation observed within each outcrop, but variable partial melting is necessary to account for the differences in incompatible element enrichment between the two series, and between the individual outcrops. The degree of partial melting may not have exceeded 3%, as is the case for many other alkaline magmas. The volcanism is an intraplate phenomenon but there is no correlation in timing between the cessation of subduction and the inception of alkaline volcanism. The activity cannot be related to the passage of the coupled Pacific-Antarctic plate over a stationary mantle hot-spot. Although the precise causal relationship with tectonic setting is unknown, regional extension was a prerequisite for giving the magmas rapid access to the surface.
Authors: Smellie, John L.
1 June, 1987
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research / 32