Structure of the Flemish Cap margin, Newfoundland: insights into mantle and crustal processes during continental breakup
J. R. Hopper, T. Funck, B. E. Tucholke, 2007. "Structure of the Flemish Cap margin, Newfoundland: insights into mantle and crustal processes during continental breakup", Imaging, Mapping and Modelling Continental Lithosphere Extension and Breakup, G. D. Karner, G. Manatschal, L. M. Pinheiro
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Seismic reflection and refraction data from the Flemish Cap margin off Newfoundland reveal the large-scale structure of a magma-starved rifted margin. There is little evidence for significant extensional deformation of the Flemish Cap, consistent with the hypothesis that it behaved as a microplate throughout the Mesozoic. The seismic data highlight important asymmetries at a variety of scales that developed during the final stages of continental breakup and the onset of oceanic sea-floor spreading. In strong contrast to the conjugate Galicia Bank margin, Flemish Cap shows: (1) an abrupt necking profile in continental crust, thinning from 30 km thick to 3 km thick over a distance of 80 km, and a narrow, less than 20 km-wide, zone of extremely thin continental crust; (2) no clear evidence for horizontal detachment structures beneath continental crust similar to the ‘S’ reflection; and (3) evidence for at least a 60 km-wide zone of anomalously thin oceanic crust that began accreting to the margin shortly after continental crustal separation. The oceanic crust averages only 3–4 km thick and in places is as thin as 1.3 km thick, although seismic layer 3 is missing where this occurs. The data suggest that there are large spatial and temporal variations in the available melt supply following continental breakup as oceanic sea-floor spreading becomes established. In addition, wide-angle data show that anomalously slow mantle P-wave velocities appear approximately where continental crust has thinned to 6–8 km thick, indicating that low-degree serpentinization begins where the entire crust has become embrittled.
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This book summarizes our present understanding of the formation of passive continental margins and their ocean–continent transitions. It outlines the geological, geophysical and petrological observations that characterize extensional systems, and how such observations can guide and constrain dynamic and kinematic models of continental lithosphere extension, breakup and the inception of organized sea-floor spreading. The book focuses on imaging, mapping and modelling lithospheric extensional systems, at both the regional scale using dynamic models to the local scale of individual basins using kinematic models, with an emphasis on capturing the extensional history of the Iberia and Newfoundland margins. The results from a number of other extensional regimes are presented to provide comparisons with the North Atlantic studies; these range from the Tethyan realm and the northern Red Sea to the western and southern Australian margins, the Basin and Range Province, and the Woodlark basin of Papua New Guinea. All of these field studies, combined with lessons learnt from the modelling, are used to address fundamental questions about the extreme deformation of continental lithosphere.