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Present address; Geological Paleontological Institute, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

Abstract

The Mesozoic North Atlantic rift systems are superimposed on Precambrian and Paleozoic base-ment complexes and are only partly aligned with their structural grain. The Triassic to mid-Jurassic evolution of the North Atlantic rift system can be related to the southward propagation of the late Paleozoic Norwegian-Greenland Sea rift and the westward propagation of the Permo-Triassic Tethys rifts. Following mid-Jurassic crustal separation in the central Atlantic, rifting and later sea- floor spreading propagated during the Late Jurassic and Cretaceous northward into the Labrador Sea- Baffin Bay. During the Late Cretaceous and Paleo- cene, compressional intraplate stresses emanating from the Alpine collision ration between Greenland and Europe. When these stresses were relaxed, the North Atlantic sea-floor- spreading axes propagated during the earliest Eocene into the Norwegian-Greenland Sea.

The evolution of rifted basins in the North Atlan-tic domain shows great variations in duration of the rifting stage, thermal doming, and volcanism. Upper crustal extension values derived from seis-mic reflection profiles can provide new constraints for palinspastic reconstructions of the North Atlantic. It is believed that the Moho can become seriously destabilized during rifting processes. Rifting models need to be tested against Trans-Atlantic paleotransects covering conjugate margins.

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