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Abstract

Since consolidation during the Caledonian and Variscan orogenies, NW Europe has undergone repeated episodes of exhumation (the exposure of formerly buried rocks) as a result of such factors as post-orogenic unroofing, rift-shoulder uplift, hotspot activity, compressive tectonics, eustatic sea-level change, glaciation and iso-static readjustment. Modern measurement techniques, such as apatite fission-track analysis, have helped to establish useful denudation chronologies for this entire time span. However, the main observational legacy of exhumation around the North Atlantic is preserved in the comparatively young (Mesozoic and Cenozoic) geological record of this region. This is clearly reflected by the unifying theme of this volume, which documents evidence for the widespread uplift and emergence of large sections of the North Atlantic margin in Cenozoic time.

All students of NW European geology are aware of the compelling palaeogeographical evidence for the transition at the end of the Cretaceous from shelf seas and low-relief landmasses to an area dominated by highlands and newly emergent landmasses, flanked by shelves dominated by rejuvenated clastic deposition. Similarly, it is also widely known that the highlands of Norway and Scotland do not represent the original Caledonian mountain range but must be instead a product of late emergence or uplift.

The Cenozoic uplift of Fennoscandia in particular has a long history of study. It is arguably one of the oldest debates in the history of systematic geology and featured prominently in Lyell's Principles of Geology (Lyell 1830-1875). All of this early work was, of course, based on onshore observations. By

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