Paleocene initiation of Cenozoic uplift in Norway
Published:January 01, 2002
S. B. Nielsen, G. E. Paulsen, D. L. Hansen, L. Gemmer, O. R. Clausen, B. H. Jacobsen, N. Balling, M. Huuse, K. Gallagher, 2002. "Paleocene initiation of Cenozoic uplift in Norway", Exhumation of the North Atlantic Margin: Timing, Mechanisms and Implications for Petroleum Exploration, A. G. Doré, J. A. Cartwright, M. S. Stoker, J. P. Turner, N. White
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The timing of Cenozoic surface uplift in NW Europe relies on the assumption that the sedimentary response in basins is synchronous with tectonic processes in the source areas. However, many of the phenomena commonly used to infer recent uplift may as well be a consequence of climate change and sea-level fall. The timing of surface uplift therefore remains unconstrained from the sedimentary record alone, and it becomes necessary to consider the constraints imposed by physically and geologically plausible tectonic mechanisms, which have a causal relation to an initiating agent. The gradual reversal of the regional stress field following the break-up produced minor perturbations to the thermal subsidence on the Norwegian Shelf and in the North Sea. Pulses of increased compression cannot be the cause of Cenozoic land surface uplift and accelerated Neogene basin subsidence.Virtually deformation-free regional vertical movements could have been caused by changes in the density column of the lithosphere and asthenosphere following the emplacement of the Iceland plume. A transient uplift component was produced as the plume displaced denser asthenosphere at the base of the lithosphere. This component decayed as the plume material cooled. Permanent uplift as a result of igneous underplating occurred in areas of a thin lithosphere (some Palaeozoic and Mesozoic basins) or for lithosphere under extension at the time of plume emplacement (the ocean-continent boundary). In areas of a thicker lithosphere (East Greenland, Scotland and Norway) plume emplacement may have triggered a Rayleigh-Taylor instability, causing partial lithospheric delamination and associated transient surface uplift at a decreasing rate throughout Cenozoic time. A possible uplift history for the adjacent land areas hence reads: initial transient surface uplift around the break-up time at 53 Ma caused by plume emplacement, and permanent tectonic uplift caused by lithospheric delamination and associated lithospheric heating. The permanent tectonic uplift increased through Cenozoic time at a decreasing rate. Denudation acted on this evolving topography and reduced the average surface elevation, but significantly increased the elevation of the summit envelope. The marked variations in the sedimentary response in the basins were caused by climatic variations and the generally falling eustatic level. This scenario bridges the gap between the ideas of Paleocene-Eocene uplift versus repeated Cenozoic tectonic activity: the tectonic uplift history was initiated by the emplacement of the Iceland plume, but continued throughout Cenozoic time as a consequence of early plume emplacement, with climatic and eustatic control on denudation. The mechanism is consistent with topography, heat flow, crustal structure, and the Bouguer gravity of Norway, and may be applicable also to East Greenland.
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Exhumation of the North Atlantic Margin: Timing, Mechanisms and Implications for Petroleum Exploration
Northwest Europe has undergone repeated episodes of exhumation (the exposure of formerly buried rocks) due to such factors as post-orogenic unroofing, rift-shoulder uplift, hotspot activity, compressive tectonics, eustatic sea-level change, glaciation and isostatic readjustment. The main observational legacy of this exhumation around the North Atlantic is preserved in the comparatively young (Mesozoic and Cenozoic) geological record of this region. Despite a rapid increase in the understanding of the exhumation of this area, there are still many unknowns: the relative intensity of the various phases and their geographical variation; mechanisms of uplift; primary causes of exhumation. Tied to these problems is the larger-scale question of whether the circum-North Atlantic is unique or whether its behaviour is typical for passive margins.
There have been several attempts in recent years to bring together researchers to address these questions, but these have often focused on one particular geographical area or one particular exhumation phase. Before an integrated story can emerge, disciplines that have traditionally remained apart need to come together: geomorphology and offshore seismic interpretation; Palaeogene and Neogene studies; Scandinavian and British-Irish research schools. This volume represents a first step in this direction by providing an inter-disciplinary set of studies over a wide latitudinal range of the NW European margin.
The studies presented here are based on a variety of techniques that have been employed to address the main concerns of North Atlantic exhumation history, including timing, mechanisms and the sedimentary response of the continental margin. The 25 papers presented in this volume have been arranged in four sections to reflect the highly varied approach to this subject and the commercial implications. Part 1 is concerned with exhumation mechanisms, focusing primarily on the Iceland Plume. Parts 2 and 3 present ongoing research on the continental margin record offshore Scandinavia, Britain, Ireland and the Faroes. The papers in these two parts illustrate the communication that is now occurring between the two regional research schools and the acknowledgement of a multiphase Cenozoic denudation chronology for both areas. Part 4 contains five papers describing the significant changes to the hydrocarbon systems that occur in exhumed basins, detailing the implications for hydrocarbon-bearing basins.
Exhumation of the North Atlantic Margin: Timing, Mechanisms and Implications for Petroleum Exploration is the most up-to-date and complete volume integrating all aspects of the Mesozoic-Cenozoic exhumation of North Atlantic borderlands. Itwill be of interest to those within the oil industry, geomorphologists and other workers with an interest in NW European regional geology.