The formation of non-volcanic rifted margins by the progressive extension of the lithosphere: the example of the West Iberian margin
T. J. Reston, 2007. "The formation of non-volcanic rifted margins by the progressive extension of the lithosphere: the example of the West Iberian margin", Imaging, Mapping and Modelling Continental Lithosphere Extension and Breakup, G. D. Karner, G. Manatschal, L. M. Pinheiro
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Non-volcanic margins such as the West Iberian margin exhibit certain characteristics, such as a deficit of synrift igneous rock, a zone of exhumed subcontinental mantle in the continent–ocean transition and an apparent extension discrepancy. These observations can be explained as a consequence of the progressive extension of the lithosphere above relatively cool mantle. The evolving rheological stratification of the lithosphere controls the style of extension at different lithospheric levels at different times; extension is probably heterogeneous at all stages, with lower crustal and upper mantle boudinage controlling the patterns of thinning and mantle upwelling early in the rift history, and complete crustal embrittlement and mantle serpentinization controlling the formation of late-stage detachment faults. Extension in the brittle crust is via multiple phases of faulting, with a general focusing of extension towards the incipient ocean.
The lack of melt is explained by a combination of heterogeneous extension of the lower lithosphere and a cool subcontinental geotherm. The extension discrepancy may in places be controlled by depth-dependent stretching of the crust through lower crustal boudinage, but may also simply be the result of incomplete recognition of the entire polyphase faulting history. The latter seems to be the case for West Iberia.
Evidence for all these processes can be found at the West Iberian rifted margins as well as those preserved and partially exposed in the Alps.
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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.