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West Antarctic Rift System in the Antarctic Peninsula

By Graeme Eagles, Robert D. Larter, Karsten Gohl and Alan P.M. Vaughan

Abstract

Decades after the recognition of the West Antarctic Rift System, and in spite of its global importance, the location and nature of the plate boundary it formed at are unknown east of the Byrd Subglacial Basin. Alternative constructions of the circuit of South Pacific plate boundaries suggest the presence of either a transcurrent plate boundary or a continuation of the extensional rift system. We identify George VI Sound, a curved depression separating Alexander Island from Palmer Land, as the easternmost basin of a rift system that terminated at a triple junction with the Antarctic Peninsula subduction zone. The history of the triple junction's third, transform, arm suggests extension started around 33.5-30 Ma. A more speculatively identified basin further west may have formed earlier during the same episode of rifting, starting around 43 Ma. Proposals of earlier Cenozoic relative motion between East and West Antarctica cannot be verified from this region. Citation: Eagles, G., R. D. Larter, K. Gohl, and A. P. M. Vaughan (2009), West Antarctic Rift System in the Antarctic Peninsula, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L21305, doi: 10.1029/2009GL040721

Topics: Earth Sciences
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1029/2009GL040721
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:10734

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