The Antarctic Peninsula has been part of a magmatic arc since at least Jurassic times. The South Shetland Islands archipelago forms part of this arc, but it was separated from the Peninsula following the Pliocene opening of the Bransfield Strait. Dikes are widespread throughout the archipelago and are particularly accessible on the Hurd Peninsula of Livingston Island. The host rocks for the dikes are represented by the Miers Bluff Formation, which forms the overturned limb of a large-scale fold oriented 63/23 NW. The orientation of minor structures indicates a fold axis oriented NNE-SSW (24/0). Structural analysis of the dikes and their host rocks shows that the tectonic regime was similar to other parts of the archipelago and that only minor changes of the stress field occurred during dike emplacement. Based on crosscutting field relationships and geochemical data, six early Paleocene to late Eocene intrusive events can be distinguished on Hurd Peninsula. In contrast to calc-alkaline dikes from other parts of the South Shetland Islands, the majority of the Hurd Peninsula dikes are of tholeiitic affinity. Nd and Pb isotope data indicate a significant crustal component, particularly during initial magmatic activity. Plagioclase 40Ar/39Ar and whole rock K-Ar ages show that dike emplacement peaked during the Lutetian (48.3 ± 1.5, 47.4 ± 2.1, 44.5 ± 1.8 and 43.3 ± 1.7 Ma) on Hurd Peninsula and also further northeast on King George Island. Dike intrusion continued on Livingston Island at least until the Priabonian (37.2 ± 0.9 Ma). The type of magma sources (mantle, slab, crust and sediment) did not change, though their relative magmatic contributions varied with time. During Cretaceous and Early Paleogene times, the Antarctic Peninsula including the South Shetland Islands was situated southwest of Patagonia; final separation from South America occurred not before the Eocene. Thus, the geological evolution of Livingston Island is related as much to the development of Patagonia as of Antarctica, and needs to be considered within the history of southernmost South America.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth-Surface Processes