Revised East-West Antarctic plate motions since the Middle Eocene Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The middle Cenozoic (43-26 Ma) rifting between East and West Antarctica is defined by an episode of ultraslow seafloor spreading in the Adare Basin, located off northwestern Ross Sea. The absence of fracture zones and the lack of sufficient well-located magnetic anomaly picks have resulted in a poorly constrained kinematic model (Cande et al., 2000). Here we utilize the results from a dense aeromagnetic survey (Damaske et al., 2007) collected as part of GANOVEX IX 2005/06 campaign to re-evaluate the kinematics of the West Antarctic rift system since the Middle Eocene. We identify marine magnetic anomalies (anomalies 12o, 13o, 16y, and 18o) along a total of 25,000 km of the GPS navigated magnetic profiles. The continuation of these anomalies into the Northern Basin has allowed us to use the entire N-S length of this dataset in our calculations. A distinct curvature in the orientation of the spreading axis provides a strong constraint on our calculated kinematic models. The results from two- (East-West Antarctica) and three- (Australia-East Antarctica-West Antarctica) plate solutions agree well and create a cluster of rotation axes located south of the rift system, near the South Pole. These solutions reveal that spreading rate and direction, and therefore motion between East and West Antarctica, were steady between the Middle Eocene and Early Oligocene. Our kinematic solutions confirm the results of Davey and De Santis (2005) that the Victoria Land Basin has accommodated ~95 km of extension since the Middle Eocene. This magnetic pattern also provides valuable constraints on the post-spreading deformation of the Adare Basin (Granot et al., 2010). The Adare Basin has accommodated very little extension since the Late Oligocene (

publication date

  • December 1, 2010