Geochronology and geochemistry of pre-Jurassic superterranes in Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica
Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica, is a major part of the proto-Pacific supercontinental margin. On the basis of new geochronological and geochemical data relating to its pre-Jurassic evolution, Marie Byrd Land is subdivided into western or interior (“Ross”) and eastern or exterior (“Amundsen”) provinces, equivalent to two superterranes in New Zealand. The Ross province is characterized by Cambrian? metagraywackes and I-type orthogneiss dated at 505±5 Ma by U-Pb SHRIMP (Sensitive High Resolution Ion Microprobe). Its magmatic record consists of Devonian-Carboniferous (375±5 Ma and circa 339±6 Ma), predominantly I-type granitoids, and further minor granitic magmatism in Permo-Triassic times. This Paleozoic history is comparable to that of the Gondwana margin in northern Victoria Land, western New Zealand, and SE Australia. The Amundsen province has no observed Paleozoic graywacke succession; evidence from Rb-Sr and U-Pb SHRIMP dating supports calc-alkaline granitoid events in Ordovician/Silurian (450–420 Ma) and Permian (276±2 Ma) times. The latter may be the previously unknown source of Permian volcanic detritus in the Ellsworth and Transantarctic mountains. The Amundsen province is considered to be the equivalent of the Median Tectonic Zone of New Zealand, and arc magmatism of comparable ages is found in the Antarctic Peninsula and Thurston Island. The underlying lithosphere of the two provinces may be distinguished by Nd isotope data; granitoids and metasedimentary rocks of the Ross province have Meso-Proterozoic Nd model ages, generally 1300–1500 Ma, compared to 1000–1300 Ma for the Amundsen province. On the basis of published palaeomagnetic data, the two provinces amalgamated to form Marie Byrd Land in mid-Cretaceous times, only shortly before rifting of the New Zealand continental block away from Antarctica.
Authors: Pankhurst, R. J., Weaver, S. D., Bradshaw, J. D., Storey, B. C., Ireland, T. R.