Ultramafic mantle xenoliths in the Late Cenozoic Volcanic rocks of the Antarctic Peninsula and Jones Mountains, West Antarctica

Abundant mantle-derived ultramafic xenoliths occur in Cenozoic (7.7-1.5 Ma) mafic alkaline volcanic rocks along the former active margin of West Antarctica, that extends from the northern Antarctic Peninsula to Jones Mountains. The xenoliths are restricted to post-subduction volcanic rocks that were emplaced in fore-arc or back-arc positions relative to the Mesozoic-Cenozoic Antarctic Peninsula volcanic arc. The xenoliths are spinel-bearing, include harzburgites, lherzolites, wehrlites and pyroxenites, and provide the only direct evidence of the composition of the lithospheric mantle underlying most of the margin. The harzburgites may be residues of melt extraction from the upper mantle (in a mid-ocean ridge type setting), that accreted to form oceanic lithosphere, which was then subsequently tectonically emplaced along the active Gondwana margin. An exposed highly-depleted dunite-serpentinite upper mantle complex on Gibbs Island, South Shetland Islands, supports this interpretation. In contrast, pyroxenites, wehrlites and lherzolites reflect percolation of mafic alkaline melts through the lithospheric mantle. Volatile and incompatible trace element compositions imply that these interacting melts were related to the post-subduction magmatism which hosts the xenoliths. The scattered distribution of such magmatism and the history of accretion suggest that the dominant composition of sub-Antarctic Peninsula lithospheric mantle is likely to be harzburgitic.


Publication status:
Published Online
Authors: Leat, Philip T., Ross, Aidan J., Gibson, Sally A.

On this site: Philip Leat
1 January, 2021
In: The Antarctic Mantle, London, The Geological Society London,
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