Crustal transect across the North Atlantic

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Abstract

Two dimensional crustal models derived from four different ocean bottom seismographic (OBS) surveys have been compiled into a 1,580 km long transect across the North Atlantic, from the Norwegian Møre coast, across the extinct Aegir Ridge, the continental Jan Mayen Ridge, the presently active Kolbeinsey Ridge north of Iceland, into Scoresby Sund in East Greenland. Backstripping of the transect suggests that the continental break-up at ca. 55 Ma occurred along a west-dipping detachment localized near the western end of a ca. 300 km wide basin thinned to less than 20 km crustal thickness. It is likely that an east-dipping detachment near the present day Liverpool Land Escarpment was active during the late stages of continental rifting. A lower crustal high-velocity layer (7.2–7.4 km/s) interpreted as mafic intrusions/underplating, was present beneath the entire basin. The observations are consistent with the plume hypothesis, involving the Early Tertiary arrival of a mantle plume beneath central Greenland and focused decompression melting beneath the thinnest portions of the lithosphere. The mid-Eocene to Oligocene continental extension in East Greenland is interpreted as fairly symmetric and strongly concentrated in the lower crustal layer. Continental break-up which rifted off the Jan Mayen Ridge, occurred at ca. 25 Ma, when the Aegir Ridge became extinct. The first ca. 2 m.y. of oceanic accretion along the Kolbeinsey Ridge was characterized by thin magmatic crust (ca. 5.5 km), whereas the oceanic crustal formation since ca. 23 Ma documents ca. 8 km thick crust and high magma budget.

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