Metamorphic and thermal history of a fore-arc basin: the Fossil Bluff Group, Alexander Island, Antarctica

The Himalia Ridge Formation (Fossil Bluff Group), Alexander Island is a 2.2-km-thick sequence of Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous conglomerates, sandstones and mudstones, derived from an andesitic volcanic arc and deposited in a fore-arc basin. The metamorphic and thermal history of the formation has been determined using authigenic mineral assemblages and vitrinite reflectance measurements. Metamorphic effects include compaction, pore-space reduction, cementation and dissolution and replacement of detrital grains by clay minerals (smectite, illite/smectite, corrensite and kaolinite), calcite, chlorite, laumontite, prehnite, pumpellyite, albite and mica, with less common quartz, haematite, pyrite and epidote. The authigenic mineral assemblages exhibit a depth-dependence, and laumontite and calcite exhibit a strong antipathetic relationship. Detrital organic matter in the argillaceous layers has vitrinite reflectance values (R-o) ranging from 2.3 to 3.7%. This indicates considerable thermal maturation, with a systematic increase in reflectivity with increasing depth. There is good correlation of metamorphic mineral assemblages with chlorite crystallinity and vitrinite reflectance values-all indicating temperatures in the range of 140 +/- 20degreesC at the top of the sequence to 250 +/- 10degreesC at the base of the sequence. The temperatures suggest a geothermal gradient of 36-64degreesC/km and a most likely gradient of 50degreesC/km. It is suggested that this higher-than-average gradient for a fore-arc basin resulted either from rifting during basin formation or from a late-stage arc migration event.


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Authors: Miller, S., MacDonald, D.I.M.

1 January, 2004
Journal of Petrology / 45
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