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The geological evolution of the western Barents Shelf can be broadly linked to the opening history of the North Atlantic. Rifting events from the late Paleozoic to Mesozoic are identified on the Shelf, which has acted as a transfer zone linking movement between the Atlantic and the Arctic realms since the initiation of a major strike-slip fault zone in the Devonian-Carboniferous. Two major positive features on the western Barents Shelf, the Stappen High and the Loppa High, have undergone significant uplift and erosion. The Stappen High can be related to rift-margin thermal uplift, associated with the Oligocene oblique opening event between Svalbard and Greenland. The Loppa High is a large fault block which has experienced several phases of reactivation and footwall uplift, most notably during the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous.

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