Mesozoic geology of Cape Shirreff, Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica



The stratigraphic succession at Cape Shirr e ff has a minimum thickness of 450 m and is mainly composed of lavas and a smaller amount of volcaniclastic breccias. Lavas are subalkaline olivine basalts and basaltic andesites which are locally well - bedded, but in most areas give a homogeneous, sometimes massive aspect to outcrops. Volcaniclastic massive breccias are found in the northern part of Cape Shirreff where they are interstratified with lavas in a few outcrops. Breccias are indurated, heterometric, grain - supported and consist of angular to subangular volcanic rock fragments, 5 to 80 cm in diameter. Petrographic evidence of magma supercooling (skeletal microlites of plagioclase, thermal - shocked phenocrysts of olivine) enables a subaqueous environment for part of the lavas to be deposited and suggests a possible hyaloclastic origin for some interstratified volcanic breccias. The whole succession is cut by subve rtical dykes (10 to 40 cm thick and a few meters to 400 m long), which show variable trends around a NW-SE maximum. These consist of commonly vesiculated basaltic and basaltic andesite porp hyritic rocks, commonly indistinguishable from the lava bodies. Lavas dip variably between 15 and 80º, more gently in the south than in the central and northern areas. Although significant variations in dipping attitude could be associated with depositional geometries, the general dipping pattern is clearly consistent with NW-SE oriented large-scale folds showing a gentle dome and basin structure. In the southern area, the NW-SE folds are not so well developed and the structure seems to be consistent with an interference of N-S and E-W oriented folds. The large scale NW-SE folds are consistent with NE-SW shortening. This shortening direction is parallel to the direction of extension deducible from dykes and, hence, folds and dykes are not consistent with the same deformational event.

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