The global relevance of the Scotia Arc: An introduction

The Scotia Arc, situated between South America and Antarctica, is one of the Earth’s most important ocean gateways and former land bridges. Understanding its structure and development is critical for the knowledge of tectonic, paleoenvironmental and biological processes in the southern oceans and Antarctica. It extends from the Drake Passage in the west, where the Shackleton Fracture Zone forms a prominent, but discontinuous, bathymetric ridge between the southern South American continent and the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula to the active intra-oceanic volcanic arc forming the South Sandwich Island in the east. The tectonic arc comprises the NSR to the north and to the south the South Scotia Ridge, both transcurrent plate margins that respectively include the South Georgia and South Orkney microcontinents. The Scotia and Sandwich tectonic plates form the major basin within these margins. As the basins opened, formation of first shallow sea ways and then deep ocean connections controlled the initiation and development of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is widely thought to have been important in providing the climatic conditions for formation of the polar ice-sheets. The evolution of the Scotia Arc is therefore of global palaeoclimatic significance. The Scotia Arc has been the focus of increasing international research interest. Many recent studies have stressed the links and interactions between the solid Earth, oceanographic, palaeoenvironmental and biological processes in the area. This special issue presents new works that summarize significant recent research results and synthesize the current state of knowledge for the Scotia Arc.


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Authors: Maldonado, Andrés, Dalziel, Ian W.D., Leat, Philip T.

On this site: Philip Leat
1 February, 2015
Global and Planetary Change / 125
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