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Seismic reflection data from the Danish North Sea are interpreted to map the structure of the Palaeozoic basement in the area of the MONA LISA deep seismic lines. Based on a characteristic near-basement reflection, the upper crystalline crust of Baltica of offshore Denmark is traced to the south into the southern Horn-Graben, and to the west to the eastern shoulder of the Central Graben. A two-way-traveltime map of the near-basement horizon and several interpreted seismic sections reveal that three main tectonic events influenced the topography of the basement: (1) a compressional event which could be Caledonian in age; (2) a Palaeozoic extensional event postdating the compressional deformation and expressed in a system of WSW-ESE to W-E striking Palaeozoic half-grabens; and (3) the Permo-Triassic rifting that led to the formation of NNW-SSE to NNE-SSW trending Mesozoic faults of the Horn Graben and the Central Graben which are oriented sub-perpendicular to the Palaeozoic system. Compressive deformation is localized in a narrow zone around and south of the hitherto interpreted Caledonian Deformation Front and foreland deformation on Baltica is suggested as its origin. The seismic image of the Palaeozoic halfgrabens indicates that the East North Sea High is an inverted Palaeozoic rift which subsequently was cut by younger Late Palaeozoic to Mesozoic rifts of the Horn and Central Grabens. The timing of the first extensional phase remains speculative, but it predates the Rotliegend unconformity. Some of the older Palaeozoic normal faults may have been reactivated as transfer zones between the different graben segments during the Permo-Mesozoic extension.

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