University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Bullard Laboratories Wednesday Seminars > Structure and uplift history of the Transantarctic Mountains: a test for convective instability in the upper mantle

Structure and uplift history of the Transantarctic Mountains: a test for convective instability in the upper mantle

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The 3000 km long Transantarctic Mountains (TAM), and adjacent Wilkes Subglacial Basin, is one of the more dramatic physiographic features of the planet. Explaining their origin and uplift has, however, been a challenge. These mountains have formed in a tensional environment, and are up to 4500 m high. Recent seismic observation show that low shear-wave speeds, typical of asthenospheric mantle, extends to shallow depths under the edge of the TAM . In the Southern TAM this anomaly can be tracked 350 km inboard of the edge of the TAM , and in the Ross Sea sector 80 km under the edge. Here we test the proposition that ductile, small-scale, convective flow in the upper mantle can drive mountain building and coeval basin formation at the Earth’s surface. The TAM present an ideal location to carry out this test for two reasons: 1. The unusually good set of geological and geophysical data to constrain both crust-mantle structure and timing of uplift. 2. Subduction has not occurred along this boundary since 500 Ma, and thus we start with a clean slate.

This talk is part of the Bullard Laboratories Wednesday Seminars series.

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