Zircon Geochemistry of Granitic Rocks from Ong Valley and Moraine Canyon in the Central Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Julia Liu, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, United States
A number of granitic rocks exposed throughout the Central Transantarctic Mountains (CTAM) are thought to have been generated during and following the Ross Orogeny (late Cambrian to early Ordovician). Understanding the origin of these rocks can help improve our understanding of the tectonic events responsible for the suturing of Gondwana. In this study, we use zircon as a tool to investigate the magmatic origins and evolution of CTAM granites. Zircon has a low solubility in almost all melt and fluid compositions, is stable and resistant to alteration at Earth’s surface, and is physically durable during transport. These features enable it to survive many crustal processes during which most other minerals are destroyed, thus preserving an important geochemical record of its crystallizing environments.

We collected granitic samples from two sites in the CTAM: Ong Valley (157.5°E, 83.25°S), where the Hope Granite is exposed intruded into pre-Cambrian gneisses, and Moraine Canyon (157.55°W, 86.1°S), where bedrock exposure is dominated by a silicic porphyry of the Wyatt Formation. Our zircon U-Pb data, collected in-situ by laser ablation (LA) ICP-MS, suggests that the Hope Granite has a mean weighted crystallization age of 582 ± 23 Ma (2σ; n=26), older than the published age (510 ± 9 Ma, 1σ; whole-rock Rb-Sr isochrons; Faure & Mensing, 2010). The spread in individual zircon ages is consistent with previous estimates for the duration of intrusion (~20 Myr) of the Hope Granite. Published ages for Wyatt Fm rocks range from ~525 to ~800 Ma, but their origin is uncertain.

We will analyze zircons from the Wyatt porphyry for U-Pb isotopes (by LA-ICP-MS) to better constrain its age. In addition, we will obtain trace element compositions of zircons from both intrusions to investigate their magmatic origins. This will allow us to explore potential geochemical connections between the intrusions, and may yield additional insight into the tectonic events involved in the Ross Orogeny.