The evolution of the North Atlantic Igneous Province and the opening of the NE Atlantic rift
David W. Jolley, Brian R. Bell, 2002. "The evolution of the North Atlantic Igneous Province and the opening of the NE Atlantic rift", The North Atlantic Igneous Province: Stratigraphy, Tectonic, Volcanic and Magmatic Processes, D. W. Jolley, B. R. Bell
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The papers in this volume represent a step forward in our knowledge of the geological evolution of the North Atlantic from the Cretaceous-Palaeogene boundary through to the early Eocene. With the increase in hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Faroe-Shetland Basin (Fig. 1), new interpretations of the regional geology have become increasingly important, and the accuracy of the time frame for this work is vital to our understanding of the sequence of volcanic and sedimentary events.
The synthesis of data relating to Palaeogene volcanism and sedimentation along the Norwegian Margin by Eldholm et al. emphasizes the importance of transfer zones, possibly inherited from the Proterozoic basement, in the distribution of sediments and volcanic products during rifting (Fig. 2). Furthermore, subsequent uplift and the development of marginal highs are invoked as factors which affected water circulation within the basins, leading to a deterioration in the Eocene climate. This work identifies the relevance of the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP) as an influence on environmental systems on a global scale.
Ar-Ar and Pb-U isotopic age data show that the main period of continental flood basalt volcanism in the NAIP extended from c. 60.5 Ma through to c. 54.5 Ma (Table 1). Biostratigraphical analysis of these volcanic-sedimentary sections (Jolley et al. 2002) shows that the onset of this interval equates to the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum (LPTM). New isotopic dating of the oldest part of the volcanic sequence on the Faroe Islands, the Lower Formation, by Waagstein et al. has further confirmed the age
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The North Atlantic Igneous Province has been the subject of extensive scientific investigation over the past thirty years, with a wide field of knowledge being accumulated. Recently, recognition of the potential role of Large Igneous Provinces in affecting ocean and atmosphere systems and biotic evolutionary pathways has lead to increased interest in this province. This has been further stimulated by the expansion in the search for oil and gas in Mesozoic and Tertiary sediments along the NE Atlantic Margin. An improved understanding of the interaction between igneous and sedimentary processes is vital for the identification of potential hydrocarbon resources.
The regions covered include continental margin Norway, east and west Greenland, the Faroe-Shetland Basin and the Faroe Islands themselves. The papers in this book contain new data and interpretations of North Atlantic Igneous Province magmatic processes, rift evolution, tectonics, stratigraphy (chemostratigraphy, biostratigraphy, seismic and isotope stratigraphy) and sediment dispersal. Many of the papers adopt a multidisciplinary approach to tha analysis and interpretation of complex volcanic and sedimentary sequences. These new data, and the reviews and compilations of existing data provide the reader with access to current research directions in North Atlantic Igneous Province geology.