Timing of events in an Early Cretaceous island arc-marginal basin system on South georgia

19 new K–Ar mineral ages of 78-201 Ma and 3 Rb–Sr whole rock isochron ages of 81 ± 10, 127±4 and 181±30 Ma are presented from units of continental crust, mafic complex and island arc assemblage on South Georgia. The Drygalski Fjord Complex, part of the possible floor of the marginal basin in the southern part of the island, includes granodiorite and gabbro plutons of minimum age 180–200 Ma. Together with older metasediments they have been affected by a major thermal event at about 140 Ma, thought to have resulted from the emplacement of a mafic complex (Larsen Harbour Formation) during the initial opening of the marginal basin. Rocks of the Larsen Harbour Formation are cut by the Smaaland Cove intrusion dated by Rb–Sr whole rock isochron at 127±4 Ma. An island arc assemblage exposed to the SW of South Georgia consists of pyroclastic rocks cut by monzodiorite and andesite intrusions, which give radiometric ages of 81–103 Ma. These data suggest that the marginal basin opened during the late Jurassic (pre-140 Ma); that part of an earlier (early Mesozoic) magmatic arc is preserved in continental crust making up part of the floor of the basin; and that subduction continued beneath the island arc until at least the Senonian time. The younger plutons in the arc were emplaced at roughly the same time as turbidite facies rocks at deep levels in the marginal basin were being affected by penetrative deformation and metamorphism. The timing of events on South Georgia agrees closely with that deduced for the continuation of the same island arc–marginal basin system in South America. The 180–200 Ma plutons correlate with an older suite of plutonic rocks reported from the Antarctic Peninsula and southern Andes; they are part of a once-continuous magmatic arc related to subduction of the Pacific plate beneath Gondwanaland during the early Mesozoic.


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Authors: Tanner, P.W.G., Rex, D.C.

1 January, 1979
Geological Magazine / 116
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