Continuous Neoproterozoic to Ordovician sedimentation at the East Gondwana margin – implications from detrital zircons of the Ross Orogen in northern Victoria Land, Antarctica
Estrada et al
The Ross-Delamerian orogenic belt was formed along the eastern side of the Australian-East Antarctic continent during west-directed subduction of the Palaeo-Pacific Ocean in the early Palaeozoic. Northern Victoria Land (NVL) in Antarctica was located at a central position of the Ross-Delamerian system. Its metamorphic basement is formed by three lithotectonic units formerly interpreted as terranes: the Wilson, Bowers and Robertson Bay terranes (from west to east). Dating of detrital zircons from 14 metasedimentary samples of these terranes combined with petrographical and whole-rock geochemical studies give new insights into the stratigraphic and tectonic evolution of NVL. All samples show very similar zircon age spectra with two main intervals, a Ross/Pan-African-age interval (470–700 Ma) and a Grenville-age interval (900–1300 Ma), as well as subordinate craton-related ages dispersed over the range of ca. 1600–3500 Ma. The Ross/Pan-African-age zircon population tends to get more dominant from the Priestley Formation of the Wilson Terrane to the Molar Formation of the Bowers Terrane, and finally to the Robertson Bay Group, whereas the number of craton-related ages diminishes in this direction. A common East Antarctic source area is indicated for all analyzed samples. The Priestley Formation was deposited on the Palaeo-Pacific passive continental margin of East Gondwana in the late Neoproterozoic after Rodinia breakup. The sequence was subsequently metamorphosed and intruded by the Granite Harbour Intrusives during the Ross Orogeny. The Molar Formation of the Bowers Terrane is interpreted as a turbiditic sequence deposited in an accretionary setting on the active continental margin in the Late Cambrian during and after accretion of the Glasgow island arc allochthon. The thick, homogeneous sequence of the Robertson Bay Group resulted from continuous turbiditic sedimentation in an accretionary wedge in front of the Ross Orogen after docking and imbrication of the Glasgow island arc in the Early Ordovician.