Asymmetric extension associated with uplift and subsidence in the Transantarctic Mountains and Ross Embayment

Paul G Fitzgerald, Michael Sandiford, Peter J. Barrett, Andrew J W Gleadow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

150 Scopus citations


Apatite fission track data combined with regional geological observations indicate that the uplift of the Transantarctic Mountains has been coeval with thinning and subsidence of the crust beneath the Ross Embayment. In the Dry Valleys region of south Victoria Land, the mountains have been uplifted about 5 km since the early Cenozoic at an average rate of about 100 m/Ma. During uplift, the crust remained at constant thickness or was slightly thickened by magmatic underplating. In contrast, the crust beneath the Ross Embayment has been extended and consequently thinned beginning in the Late Cretaceous but mainly during Cenozoic times. We suggest here that the uplift of the Transantarctic Mountains and the subsidence of the Ross Embayment are a result of passive rifting governed by a fundamental structural asymmetry defined by a shallow crustal penetrative detachment zone that dips westward beneath the Transantarctic Mountain Front. The localization and asymmetry of this detachment and its unusually deep level expression are attributed to a profound crustal anisotropy inherited from an early Palaeozoic collision along the present site of the mountain range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

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