Inversion of NASA Operation IceBridge airborne gravity over the Abbot Ice Shelf in West Antarctica for subice bathymetry defines an extensional terrain made up of east-west trending rift basins formed during the early stages of Antarctica/Zealandia rifting. Extension is minor, as rifting jumped north of Thurston Island early in the rifting process. The Amundsen Sea Embayment continental shelf west of the rifted terrain is underlain by a deeper, more extensive sedimentary basin also formed during rifting between Antarctica and Zealandia. A well-defined boundary zone separates the mildly extended Abbot extensional terrain from the deeper Amundsen Embayment shelf basin. The shelf basin has an extension factor, β, of 1.5-1.7 with 80-100 km of extension occurring across an area now 250 km wide. Following this extension, rifting centered north of the present shelf edge and proceeded to continental rupture. Since then, the Amundsen Embayment continental shelf appears to have been tectonically quiescent and shaped by subsidence, sedimentation, and the advance and retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The Bellingshausen Plate was located seaward of the Amundsen Sea margin prior to incorporation into the Antarctic Plate at about 62 Ma. During the latter part of its independent existence, Bellingshausen plate motion had a clockwise rotational component relative to Antarctica producing convergence across the north-south trending Bellingshausen Gravity Anomaly structure at 94°W and compressive deformation on the continental slope between 94°W and 102°W. Farther west, the relative motion was extensional along an east-west trending zone occupied by the Marie Byrd Seamounts. Key Points: Abbot Ice Shelf is underlain by E-W rift basins created at ∼90 Ma Amundsen shelf shaped by subsidence, sedimentation, and passage of the ice sheet Bellingshausen plate boundary is located near the base of continental slope and rise © 2015. The Authors.
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