Very low- and low-grade metamorphism in the Trinity Peninsula Group (Permo-Triassic) of northern Graham Land, Antarctic Peninsula

The Permo-Triassic Trinity Peninsula Group is a widespread, regionally metamorphosed metasedimentary sequence in northern Graham Land, Antarctica, which forms the local ‘basement’ to the mainly Jurassic–Cretaceous Antarctic Peninsula magmatic arc. The metamorphic grade, thermal evolution and pressure series of this major tectono-stratigraphical unit are largely unknown. Determining the nature of the metamorphism has relied hitherto on conventional optical identifications of the major phases, mainly in rare volcanic beds. However, diagnostic mineral parageneses are generally absent and the precise metamorphic grade is unknown or has to be inferred over large areas. Using white mica (illite) crystallinity of interbedded mudrocks, the Trinity Peninsula Group is now shown to have been pervasively altered mainly at anchizonal and epizonal grades. Conditions ranged from upper anchizonal in the northeast to thoroughly epizonal in the southwest. Outwith thermal aureoles near plutonic intrusions, the alteration temperatures ranged mainly from 250 to 325 °C, exceeding 300 °C in the highest-grade (epizone/greenschist facies) parts of the sequence. The facies series, K-white mica b cell dimension measurements and mineral phases present are characteristic of an intermediate pressure series altered under moderate geothermal gradients (<35 °C/km), corresponding to burial depths of c. 7–10 km. Unroofing and substantial erosion of the Trinity Peninsula Group took place during polyphasal vertical tectonic movements linked to the development of the magmatic arc in northern Graham Land. The geological setting of the Trinity Peninsula Group is ambiguous and could have been a foreland (or back-arc) basin or the mid- to upper levels of an accretionary prism.


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Authors: Smellie, J. L., Roberts, B., Hirons, S. R.

1 September, 1996
Geological Magazine / 133
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