The age and stratigraphy of fore-arc megmatism on Alexander Island, Antarctica

Fore-arc magmatic sequences associated with high Mg number andesite lavas unconformably overlie LeMay Group accretionary complex in Alexander Island. High-resolution 40Ar/39Ar, U–Pb zircon, fission track and K–Ar ages demonstrate that subduction-related fore-arc magmatism migrated northwards along the length of Alexander Island between c. 80 Ma and c. 46 Ma. The magmatic rocks represent a third of the western margin of the Antarctic Peninsula magmatic arc and are critical to the understanding of the final phase of subduction along the southern Antarctic Peninsula margin. The onset of late Cretaceous magmatism is recorded by poorly exposed volcanic rocks on Monteverdi Peninsula (79.7±2.5 Ma). In central and northern Alexander Island, the magmatic rocks can be distinguished by the proportion, range and types of lithofacies present, and by the periods of magmatism represented. The volcanic rocks of the Colbert Mountains range in age from c. 69–62 Ma and are dominated by large volume dacitic and rhyolitic crystal-rich ignimbrites interpreted as caldera-fill deposits. Elgar Uplands sequences range in age from c. 55–50 Ma, and contain approximately equal proportions of pyroclastic deposits and less evolved (basaltic-andesite and andesite) lavas including high Mg number andesite lavas near the base of three sequences. The volcanic rocks of Finlandia Foothills probably represent the youngest calc-alkaline units on Alexander Island (48±2 Ma). The sequence is lithologically similar to the Elgar Uplands and also contains high Mg number andesite lavas, but it is dominated by polymict conglomerates, with minor lavas, which were deposited in a graben associated with regional extension. Plutonic rocks exposed in the Rouen Mountains, adjacent to the Elgar Uplands, yielded a U–Pb age of 56±3 Ma which is in discordance with a previously published Rb–Sr age (46±3 Ma), probably due to hydrothermal perturbation of the Rb–Sr system. Northwards migration of magmatism was caused by the progressive collision and subduction of three ridge segments prior to the previously reported ridge crest–trench collisions that occurred c. 20–30 Ma later and following which subduction ceased.


Publication status:
Authors: McCarron, Joe J., Millar, Ian L.

1 July, 1997
Geological Magazine / 134