And the Falkland plateau

The southern tip of South America has consistently horrid weather with high winds, rain and ice storms, and large sea waves. Southernmost South America is a large island archipelago known as Tierra del Fuego, separated from the mainland by the Strait of Magellan, and the southern tip of which is known as Cape Horn. The Drake Passage separates Cape Horn from the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Tierra del Fuego and the Strait of Magellan were discovered by Magellan in 1520 and settled by Europeans, Argentineans, and Chileans after the discovery of gold in the 1880s. These peoples brought diseases that spread to and killed off all of the indigenous people of the islands.

The Falkland Plateau is a shallow-water shelf extending 1,200 miles (2,000 km) eastward from Tierra del Fuego on the southern tip of South America, past South Georgia Island. The plateau includes the Falkland Islands 300 miles (480 km) east of the coast of South America and is bounded on the south by the Scotia Ridge and on the north by the Agulhas-Falkland fracture zone. The Falkland Islands include two main islands (East and West Falkland) and about 200 small islands and are administered by the British but also claimed by Argentina, with the capital at Stanley. The islands are stark rocky outposts, plagued by severe cold rains and wind, but have abundant seals and whales in surrounding waters. The highest elevation is 2,315 feet (705 m) on Mount Adam. Thick peat deposits support a sheep-farming community among the dominantly Scottish and Welsh population.

The Falkland Plateau formed as a remnant of the southern tip of Africa that remained attached to

South America during the breakup of Gondwana and the movement of South America away from Africa. The Agulhas-Falkland fracture zone extends to the tip of Africa and represents the transform along which divergence of the two continents occurred. Numerous Mesozoic rift basins on the plateau are the site of intensive oil exploration. The geology of the Falklands was first described by Charles Darwin from his expedition with the HMS Beagle in 1833 and reported in 1846, and Johan G. Andersson completed later pioneering studies.

Precambrian granite, schist, and gneiss are found on the southwest part of West Falkland Island, probably correlated with the Nama of South Africa. The Precambrian basement is overlain by a generally flat to gently tilted Paleozoic sequence including 1.7 miles (3,000 m) of Devonian quartzite, sandstone, and shale. A Permo-Triassic sequence 2.2 miles (3,500 m) thick unconformably overlies the Paleozoic sequence and includes tillites and varves indicating glacial influence. These rocks are cut by Triassic-Jurassic dioritic to diabasic dikes and sills related to the Karoo and Parana flood basalts. Diamictites and long lobes of gravel interpreted as mudflows deposited in a periglacial environment overlie quaternary interglacial deposits.

The Falklands are folded into a series of northwest-southeast trending folds that intensify to the south and swing to east-west on the east of the plateau.

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