The continental margin east of the Falkland Islands

Wilfried.Jokat [ at ]


The 1500 km long Falkland Plateau is the most prominent morphological structure in the southern South Atlantic Ocean, which crustal composition and development is mainly unknown. At the westernmost boundary of the plateau, the Falkland Islands' Precambrian geology provides the only insight into basement structure and age. The question of whether continental basement of a similar age and origin underlies the Falkland Plateau further east is strongly disputed. We present new high quality constraints on the crustal fabric of the plateau east of the Falkland Islands, based on wide-angle seismic and potential field data acquired in 2013. The P-wave velocity model, supported by amplitude and density modelling, shows that the Falkland Plateau Basin is filled with 8 km of sediments. Continental crust of 34 km thickness underlies the Falkland Islands. The eastern continental margin of the Falkland Islands can be classified as a volcanic rifted margin. The Falkland Plateau Basin is floored by up to 20 km thick oceanic crust. The exceptionally thick igneous crust and its high lower crustal velocities (up to 7.4 km/s) indicate the influence of a regional thermal mantle anomaly during its formation, which provided extra melt material. The wide-angle model revises published crustal models, which predicted thin oceanic or thick extended continental crust below the Falkland Plateau Basin. Our results provide a sound basis for future tectonic interpretations of the area.

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Primary Division
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Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1016/j.tecto.2017.11.034

Cite as
Schimschal, C. and Jokat, W. (2018): The continental margin east of the Falkland Islands , Tectonophysics, 724-72 , pp. 234-253 . doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2017.11.034

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Geographical region

Research Platforms

ANT > XXIX > 5

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