Alkaline basalt with ultramafic xenoliths in Tierra del Fuego

Main Article Content

Rogelio D. Acevedo
Bernabé J. Quartino


At the southern extreme of Tierra del Fuego, alkali basaltic rocks with ultramafic enclaves have been discovered. Alkali basalt plugs or pipes hitherto identified are scarce, and host rocks consist of slates of Mesozoic deposition. The petrography, texture and composition of the basalt and xenoliths were investigated by petrographic microscope and electron microprobe analysis. Xenocrysts of amphibole and alkali feldspar, olivine, spinel, flogopite and Fe-Ti minerals (10%) and a diversity of xenoliths, mainly lherzolitic, pyroxenite and wehrlitic (15%), but also of metamorphic provenance, are contained in the basalt groundmass (75%), of laths or needles of plagioclase, pyroxene, opaque minerals, apatite and glass, with intersertal, hyalopilitic and pilotaxitic textures. Former amygdules are filled with analcite, zeolites, sodalite and calcite. The normative classification, based on nepheline content, show this rock to be an alkali basalt. The chemical classification, considering immobile elements as Zr/TiO2 versus Nb/Y, also indicate an alkali basalt composition; plots over the TAS diagram fall in the foidite (Na-rich or nephelinite) and basanite fields. The REE patterns are fractionated (La/Yb primitive mantle normalized is aproximately 30). K-Ar isotopic dating of individual macrocrysts gave ages of 146 ± 5 Ma (amphibole) and 127 ± 4 Ma (alkali feldspar); whereas K-Ar whole rock data gave 8.3 ± 0.3 Ma. Nevertheless, fertile samples show geochemical features typical of deep-derived material and thus, given its actual tectonic setting, indicate that the basalt is older than its isotopic age.

Article Details

How to Cite
Acevedo, R. D., & Quartino, B. J. (2004). Alkaline basalt with ultramafic xenoliths in Tierra del Fuego. Revista De La Asociación Geológica Argentina, 59(3), 411-415. Retrieved from