Tectonic impact on sedimentary processes during Cenozoic evolution of the northern North Sea and surrounding areas
Published:January 01, 2002
Jan Inge Faleide, Rune Kyrkjebø, Tomas Kjennerud, Roy H. Gabrielsen, Henrik Jordt, Stein Fanavoll, Morten D. Bjerke, 2002. "Tectonic impact on sedimentary processes during Cenozoic evolution of the northern North Sea and surrounding areas", 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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This paper focuses on the Cenozoic evolution of the northern North Sea and surrounding areas, with emphasis on sediment distribution, composition and provenance, as well as on timing, amplitude and wavelength of differential vertical movements. Quantitative information about palaeo-water depth and tectonic vertical movements has been integrated with a seismic stratigraphic framework to better constrain the Cenozoic evolution. The data and modelling results support a probable tectonic control on sediment supply and on the formation of regional unconformities. The sedimentary architecture and breaks are related to tectonic uplift of surrounding clastic source areas, thus the offshore sedimentary record provides the best age constraints on Cenozoic exhumation of the adjacent onshore areas. Tectonic subsidence accelerated in Paleocene time throughout the basin, with uplifted areas to the east and west sourcing prograding wedges, which resulted in large depocentres close to the basin margins. Subsidence rates outpaced sedimentation rates along the basin axis, and water depths in excess of 600 m are indicated. In Eocene times progradation from the East Shetland Platform was dominant and major depocentres were constructed in the Viking Graben area, with deep water along the basin axis. At the Eocene-Oligocene transition, southern Norway and the eastern basin flank became uplifted. The uplift, in combination with prograding units from both the east and west, gave rise to a shallow threshold in the northern North Sea, separating deeper waters to the south and north. The uplift and shallowing continued into Miocene time when a widespread hiatus formed in the northern North Sea, as indicated by biostratigraphic data. The Pliocene basin configuration was dominated by outbuilding of thick clastic wedges from the east and south. Considerable late Cenozoic uplift of the eastern basin flank is documented by the strong angular relationship and tilting of the complete Tertiary package below the Pleistocene unconformity. Cenozoic exhumation is documented on both sides of the North Sea, but the timing is not well constrained. Two major uplift phases in early Paleogene and late Neogene times are related to rifting, magmatism and break-up in the NE Atlantic and isostatic response to glacial erosion, respectively. Additional uplift events may be related to mantle processes and the episodic behaviour of the Iceland plume.
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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.