Young volcanic centres of the Bransfield Strait and James Ross Island occur along back-arc extensional structures parallel to the South Shetland island arc. Back-arc extension was caused by slab rollback at the South Shetland Trench during the past 4 myr. The variability of lava compositions along the Bransfield Strait results from varying degrees of mantle depletion and input of a slab component. The mantle underneath the Bransfield Strait is heterogeneous on a scale of approximately tens of kilometres with portions in the mantle wedge not affected by slab fluids. Lavas from James Ross Island east of the Antarctic Peninsula differ in composition from those of the Bransfield Strait in that they are alkaline without evidence for a component from a subducted slab. Alkaline lavas from the volcanic centres east of the Antarctic Peninsula imply variably low degrees of partial melting in the presence of residual garnet, suggesting variable thinning of the lithosphere by extension. Magmas in the Bransfield Strait form by relatively high degrees of melting in the shallow mantle, whereas the magmas some 150 km further east form by low degrees of melting deeper in the mantle, reflecting the diversity of mantle geodynamic processes related to subduction along the South Shetland Trench.
- 1171 Geotieteet