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Geodynamic models of continental extension and the formation of non-volcanic rifted continental margins

By
Jerry C. Bowling
Jerry C. Bowling
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Alabama, Box 870338, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487–0338, USA (e-mail: dharry@wgs.geo.ua.edu)
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Dennis L. Harry
Dennis L. Harry
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Alabama, Box 870338, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487–0338, USA (e-mail: dharry@wgs.geo.ua.edu)
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Published:
January 01, 2001

Abstract

Finite-element models of continental rifting show that formation of non-volcanic rifted margins may be the result of extension of a rheologically homogeneous crust. In such circumstances lithosphere necking does not become well developed until late in the rift history, delaying the onset of decompression melting in the asthenosphere until the last 10% of the rifting episode. This result is robust over a broad range of mantle temperatures, margin geometries, and extension rates. A cool mantle is not required, so the models are able to account for the production of oceanic crust at the end of amagmatic rifting episodes. The duration of the syn-rift melting episode is most sensitive to changes in extension rate, with higher extension rates leading to shorter periods of melt production. The duration of the rifting episode is controlled by extension rate and initial crustal thickness, and the geometry of the margin after continental break-up is controlled by initial crustal thickness and the distribution of pre-existing rheological heterogeneity in the crust. The model results are generally compatible with the dimensions and extension rates of rifted continental margins across the globe, and provide a particularly good fit to the evolution of the Iberia Abyssal Plain margin.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Non-Volcanic Rifting of Continental Margins: A Comparison of Evidence from Land and Sea

R. C. L. Wilson
R. C. L. Wilson
The Open University, UK
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R. B. Whitmarsh
R. B. Whitmarsh
Southampton Oceanography Centre, UK
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B. Taylor
B. Taylor
University of Hawaii, Hawaii
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N. Froitzheim
N. Froitzheim
University of Bonn, Germany
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Geological Society of London
Volume
187
ISBN electronic:
9781862394353
Publication date:
January 01, 2001

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