Crustal transect across the North Atlantic

  • R. MjeldeEmail author
  • T. Raum
  • A. J. Breivik
  • J. I. Faleide
Original Research Paper


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.


Crustal transect North Atlantic OBS data Crustal evolution 



The crew of R/V Håkon Mosby and engineers from the University of Bergen are greatly acknowledged for their skills and help in acquiring the OBS data from the Norwegian Coastline to the Kolbeinsey Ridge. We also thank H. Shimamura, H. Shiobara, S. Kodaira, Y. Murai and engineers from Hokkaido University for invaluable participation in planning and executing these surveys, as well as for initial processing of the OBS data, and we thank Beata Mjelde for drawing figures. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), Statoil and Norsk Hydro funded these projects, and we thank in particular to E. Bråstein and H. Brekke (NPD), S. Thorbjørnsen (Statoil), as well as G. Haatvedt and R. Karpuz (Hydro). The modeling was done with help of the inversion/forward modeling software developed by C. Zelt (Rice University, Houston). The present paper can to a large extent be attributed to the fruitful environment for scientific discussions the first author experienced during a research stay in 2006 at SOEST, University of Hawaii. The paper was finalized during a research stay in 2007 at Institute for Seismology and Volcanology, Hokkaido University. We finally thank Peter Clift and two anonymous reviewers for very constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Mjelde
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. Raum
    • 1
  • A. J. Breivik
    • 2
  • J. I. Faleide
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth ScienceUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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