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Abstract

The Mesozoic North Sea rift forms an integral part of the Arctic-North Atlantic rift system. Rifting activity in the North Sea commenced during the earliest Triassic, peaked during the Late Jurassic-earliest Cretaceous, and terminated during the Paleocene. During the early Middle Jurassic a major rift dome developed in the central North Sea. Geophysical data indicate an important discrepancy between upper and lower crustal thinning across the North Sea rift system. This raises doubts about the concept that during rifting the crust is thinned by mechanical stretching only. It is argued that during the rifting process the Mohodiscontinuity can be seriously destabilized.

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