The plutonic rocks of the Antarctic Peninsula magmatic arc form one of the major batholiths of the circum-Pacific rim. The Antarctic Peninsula batholith is a 1350 km long by < 210 km wide structure which was emplaced over the period ˜240 to 10 Ma, with a Cretaceous peak of activity that started at 142 Ma and waned during the Late Cretaceous. Early Jurassic and Late Jurassic–Early Cretaceous gaps in intrusive activity probably correspond to episodes of arc compression. In a northern zone of the Antarctic Peninsula, the batholith intrudes Palaeozoic–Mesozoic low-grade meta-sedimentary rocks, and in a central zone it intrudes schists and ortho- and paragneisses which have Late Proterozoic Nd model ages and were deformed during Triassic to Early Jurassic compression. In a southern zone the oldest exposed rocks are Permian sedimentary rocks and deformed Jurassic volcanic and sedimentary rocks. All these pre-batholith rocks formed a belt of relatively immature crust along the Gondwana margin. With few exceptions, Jurassic plutons crop out only within the central zone: many are peraluminous, having ‘S-like’ mineralogies and relatively high 87sr/86sri. They are considered to consist largely of partial melts of upper crust schists and gneisses and components of mafic magmas that caused the partial fusion. By contrast, Early Cretaceous plutons crop out along the length of the batholith. Few magma compositions appear to have been affected by upper crust, the bulk being compositionally independent of the type of country rock they intrude. They are dominated by metaluminous, calcic, Si-oversaturated, 1-type granitoid rocks with relatively low 87sr/86sri intermediate-silicic compositions (< 5% MgO). We interpret these to represent partial melts of basic to intermediate, igneous, locally garnet-bearing, lower crust. Contemporaneous mafic magmas (e.g. syn-plutonic dykes) form a more alkaline, Si-saturated series having higher 143Nd/144Nd at the same87sr/86sr than the intermediate-silicic series, to which they are not petrogenetically related. The change from limited partial fusion of upper crust in Jurassic times to widespread partial fusion of lower crust in Early Cretaceous times is considered to be a result of an increasing volume of basaltic intrusion into the crust with time.
Authors: Leat, P. T., Scarrow, J. H., Millar, I. L.