Research Article

Antarctic Tectonics: Constraints From an ERS-1 Satellite Marine Gravity Field

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Science  25 Apr 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5312, pp. 556-561
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5312.556

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Abstract

A high-resolution gravity field of poorly charted and ice-covered ocean near West Antarctica, from the Ross Sea east to the Weddell Sea, has been derived with the use of satellite altimetry, including ERS-1 geodetic phase, wave-form data. This gravity field reveals regional tectonic fabric, such as gravity lineations, which are the expression of fracture zones left by early (65 to 83 million years ago) Pacific-Antarctic sea-floor spreading that separated the Campbell Plateau and New Zealand continent from West Antarctica. These lineations constrain plate motion history and confirm the hypothesis that Antarctica behaved as two distinct plates, separated from each other by an extensional Bellingshausen plate boundary active in the Amundsen Sea before about 61 million years ago.

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