Development of the continental margins of the Labrador Sea: a review
James A. Chalmers, T. C. R. Pulvertaft, 2001. "Development of the continental margins of the Labrador Sea: a review", Non-Volcanic Rifting of Continental Margins: A Comparison of Evidence from Land and Sea, R. C. L. Wilson, R. B. Whitmarsh, B. Taylor, N. Froitzheim
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The Labrador Sea is a small oceanic basin that developed when the North American and Greenland plates separated. An initial period of stretching in Early Cretaceous time formed sedimentary basins now preserved under the continental shelves and around the margins of the oceanic crust. The basins subsided thermally during Late Cretaceous time and a second episode of tectonism took place during latest Cretaceous and early Paleocene time, before the onset of sea-floor spreading in mid-Paleocene time. Around the northern Labrador Sea, Davis Strait and in southern Baffin Bay, voluminous picrites and basalts were erupted at and shortly after the commencement of sea-floor spreading. Volcanism occurred again in early Eocene time at the same time as sea-floor spreading commenced in the northern North Atlantic. Farther southeast, along the Labrador and southern West Greenland margins, oceanic crust is separated from continental crust by highly stretched but non-magmatic transition zones which developed before sea-floor spreading. A complex transform zone, which developed during sea-floor spreading in late Paleocene and early Eocene time, separates continental and oceanic crust along the Baffin Island margin. The Greenland and Labrador ocean-continent transitions are asymmetric across the only available conjugate cross-sections. However, a cross-section through the Labrador margin farther north resembles the Greenland cross-section in the conjugate pair more than it does the Labrador cross-section of this pair. Consideration of the geological history of the area suggests that the non-magmatic transition zones may have formed by slow extension of a few millimetres per year through a period of 53 Ma during Cretaceous and early Paleocene time.
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Non-volcanic continental margins may form up to 30% all present-day passive margins, and remnants of them are preserved in mountain belts. The papers in this volume demonstrate the benefits of integrating offshore and onshore studies, and illustrate the range of information obtained at different scales when comparing evidence from land and sea. Data sets collected across a range of spatial scales are evaluated: thin sections, cores, outcrops, seismic reflection profiles, and other geophysical data. The outcrop scale is crucial because it enables the spatial gulf to be bridged between DSDP and ODP cores and marine seismic data. There is also the problem that basins on land and beneath the sea inevitably have had different post-rift histories resulting in their contrasting present-day elevation. In mountain belts, portions of continental margins and oceanic crust are superbly exposed, but dismembered by subsequent compressional tectonics. Off present-day passive margins, extensional features have only been slightly deformed, if at all, by compressional movements, but are buried beneath significant thicknesses of post-rift sediments and so can only be sampled by ocean drilling at a small number of points.
The first paper reviews the synergies that have occurred between investigations of the eastern North Atlantic non-volcanic margins and remnants of similar Mesozoic margins preserved in the Alps, and some later papers return to this theme. However, papers describing margins from other parts of the world show that it may be premature to use models based on the Atlantic and the Alps as the paradigm for all non-volcanic margins. The following 25 papers in the book are grouped under the following headings: (1) Margin overviews; (2) Exhumed crust and mantle; (3) Tectonics and stratigraphy; (4)Numerical models of extension and magmatism.