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Paton, DA; Mortimer, E; Hodgson, N
Publisher: Geological Society
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects:
Although the South Atlantic has been extensively studied, two questions remain unanswered. Firstly, the location of the regionally extensive Gondwanian Orogeny remains enigmatic in the Orange Basin, offshore South Africa. Secondly, why does the Argentinian Colorado rift basin have an east-west trend that is perpendicular to the conjugate Orange Basin and Atlantic spreading? Here we present a new structural model for the southern South Atlantic by recognising the South African foldbelt offshore for the first time. The foldebelt trend changes from north-south to east-west offshore and correlates directly with the restored Colorado Basin. The Colorado-Orange rifts form a triparte system with with the Namibian Gariep belt, that we name the Garies triple junction. All three rift branches were active during Gondwana break-up rifting, but during the Atlantic rift phase the Colorado Basin became a failed rift while the other two branches defined the present day location of the South Atlantic. Not only do our results address these two outstanding questions of South Atlantic configuration, they raise a cautionary note regarding the use of gravity anomalies to define continent-ocean boundaries. Furthermore, we highlight the importance of differentiating between early rift evolution and subsequent rifting that occurs immediately prior to seafloor spreading.
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