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Abstract

The presence of a well-defined ocean-continent transition (OCT) and the absence of large volumes of extrusive or intrusive rocks on the West Iberia margin make it a good place to investigate how the largely amagmatic rifting and break-up of continental lithosphere evolves into oceanic crust produced by magmatic sea-floor spreading. In the southern Iberia Abyssal Plain there is a broad OCT with a characteristic seismic and magnetic character, distinct from both thinned continental crust and normal oceanic crust, which supports the notion that it consists predominantly of exhumed and serpentinized mantle. Interpretations of magnetic and seismic data indicate that on average only small amounts of syn-rift melt exist within the OCT. Isolated, probably margin-parallel, intrusive melt bodies are scattered within the eastern part of the OCT well beneath the top of acoustic basement. Within the western part of the OCT, closer to unambiguous sea-floor spreading magnetic anomalies, such bodies were later(?) emplaced at higher levels and more closely together in the basement until eventually sea-floor spreading began. The evidence does not support the hypothesis that ultraslow sea-floor spreading can explain the magnetic anomalies observed within the wider parts of the West Iberia OCT, where the OCT evolution is best resolved.

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