Mesozoic evolution of West Antarctica and the Weddell Sea Basin: new paleomagnetic constraints

Grunow, Anne M.; Kent, Dennis V.; Dalziel, Ian W. D.

Paleomagnetic data from the Antarctic Peninsula and our recent results from the Ellsworth-Whitmore Mountains block suggest that since the Middle Jurassic these two West Antarctic blocks have undergone little relative movement and together have rotated relative to the East Antarctic craton. New data from Lower Cretaceous rocks from the Thurston Island region of West Antarctica suggest that on the basis of paleomagnetic constraints, the Antarctic Peninsula, Ellsworth-Whitmore Mountains and Thurston Island blocks define a single entity which we call Weddellia; some motion between these blocks is possible within the limits of the paleomagnetic data. Between the Middle Jurassic and Early Cretaceous, Weddellia remained attached to West Gondwanaland while East Antarctica moved southward (dextrally) relative to Weddellia. From the Early Cretaceous to mid-Cretaceous, Weddellia rotated clockwise 30° and moved sinistrally approximately 2500 km relative to East Antarctica, to its present-day position. We suggest the Early to mid-Cretaceous to be the time of the main if not initial opening of the Weddell Sea.



Also Published In

Earth and Planetary Science Letters

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Published Here
December 5, 2011