Meta-sediments in the Larsemann Hills that preserve a coherent stratigraphy, form a cover sequence deposited upon basement of mafic–felsic granulite. Their outcrop pattern defines a 10 kilometre wide east–west trending synclinal trough structure in which basement–cover contacts differ in the north and the south, suggesting tectonic interleaving during a prograde, D1 thickening event. Subsequent conditions reached low-medium pressure granulite grade, and structures can be divided into two groups, D2 and D3, each defined by a unique lineation direction and shear sense. D2 structures which are associated with the dominant gneissic foliation in much of the Larsemann Hills, contain a moderately east-plunging lineation indicative of west-directed thrusting. D2 comprises a colinear fold sequence that evolved from early intrafolial folds to late upright folds. D3 structures are associated with a high-strain zone, to the south of the Larsemann Hills, where S3 is the dominant gneissic layering and folds sequences resemble D2 folding. Outside the D3 high-strain zone occurs a low-strain D3 window, preserving low-strain D3 structures (minor shear bands and upright folds) that partly re-orient D2 structures. All structures are truncated by a series of planar pegmatites and parallel D4 mylonite zones, recording extensional dextral displacements.
D2 assemblages include coexisting garnet–orthopyroxene pairs recording peak conditions of ∼ 7 kbar and ∼ 780°C. Subsequent retrograde decompression textures partly evolved during both D2 and D3 when conditions of ∼ 4–5 kbar and ∼ 750°C were attained. This is followed by D4 shear zones which formed around 3 kbar and ∼ 550°C.
It is tempting to combine D2–4 structures in one tectonic cycle involving prograde thrusting and thickening followed by retrograde extension and uplift. The available geochronological data, however, present a number of interpretations. For example, D2 was possibly associated with a clockwise P–T path at medium pressures around ∼ 1000 Ma, by correlation with similar structures developed in the Rauer Group, whilst D3 and D4 events occurred in response to extension and heating at low pressures at ∼ 550 Ma, associated with the emplacement of numerous granitoid bodies. Thus, decompression textures typical for the Larsemann Hills granulites maybe the combined effect of two separate events.