A detrital record of lower oceanic crust exhumation within a Miocene slow-spreading ridge: Macquarie Island, Southern Ocean

Ryan A. Portner*, Melissa J. Murphy, Nathan R. Daczko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Uplift, exhumation, and denudation of the lower oceanic crust are recorded by sedimentary rocks of Macquarie Island (54°30′S, 158°54′E), which were deposited within the slow-spreading proto-Macquarie spreading ridge between ca. 9 and 12 Ma. Measured stratigraphic sections typically contain basal basaltic breccia lithofacies that are overlain by a thick sequence of enriched mid-ocean-ridge basalt (E-MORB) with thin intercalations of gabbroic sedimentary lithofacies. Basaltic detritus has zeolite to lower-greenschist metamorphic grades typical of the upper oceanic crust, and gabbroic detritus has upper-greenschist to amphibolite metamorphic grades typical of the lower oceanic crust. Breccia clast counts and sedimentary structures indicate that basaltic lithofacies were locally derived from the footwalls of adjacent spreading-related faults. Sedimentary structures, detrital clinopyroxene major- and trace-element geochemistry, and 206Pb/238U zircon geochronology indicate that the gabbroic lithofacies were more distally derived from a Paleogene-aged tholeiitic MORB source. Detrital zircon populations of ca. 27 and ca. 33 Ma correspond to oceanic magnetic anomalies 8o and 13o, respectively, and exclude ca. 8.5 Ma gabbroic rocks of Macquarie Island as a potential source. Geodynamic reconstructions show that anomaly 8o crust from the Southeast Indian Ridge was juxtaposed against the active proto-Macquarie spreading ridge when sedimentary rocks of Macquarie Island were deposited and was a likely source for the gabbroic lithofacies. The proto-Macquarie spreading ridge and Southeast Indian Ridge were connected by the Jurru long-offset transform, which has undergone significant transpression since 27 Ma. This transpression formed a bathymetric transverse ridge that was composed of structurally isolated blocks of heterogeneously aged Paleogene source crust, which provided the source for Macquarie Island's gabbroic sedimentary lithofacies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-273
Number of pages19
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'A detrital record of lower oceanic crust exhumation within a Miocene slow-spreading ridge: Macquarie Island, Southern Ocean'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this