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Geology, Geophysics, and Hydrocarbon Potential of Antarctica Continental Margin of Weddell Sea

K. Hinz, Y. Kristoffersen

A prominent escarpment, called the Explora-Andenes Escarpment, has been recognized between long. 40°W, lat. 72°40^primeS and long. 10°W, lat. 69°20^primeS. It separates the continental margin from the Weddell Sea basin.

Our recent MCS data have revealed the presence of some remarkably symmetric structures beneath a thick pile of tectonically undisturbed sediments. For example, two extensive wedge-shaped basement units occur between 20°W and 40°W. These units are characterized by a pattern of divergent reflectors which surround an elongated depression in basement. The northern wedge terminates against the Explora-Andenes Escarpment between 25°W and 30°W. The southern wedge, known as the Explora Wedge, shows a northward-dipping reflection pattern. The seismic characteristics suggest that both wedges consist of volcanic rocks. The basement depression is interpreted as a failed rift basin.

The initial fragmentation of Gondwana was accompanied by prolific volcanism, which led to the emplacement of the wedges of "dipping reflectors." The tectonomagmatic/volcanic period was followed by transtensional movements between Africa and Antarctica. This phase was heralded by the formation of the Explora-Andenes Escarpment as a new plate boundary and the opening of the Weddell Sea by sea-floor spreading. The Explora-Andenes Escarpment cuts across the early rift structures.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.