A dynamic model of rifting between Galicia Bank and Flemish Cap during the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean
D. L. Harry, S. Grandell, 2007. "A dynamic model of rifting between Galicia Bank and Flemish Cap during the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean", Imaging, Mapping and Modelling Continental Lithosphere Extension and Breakup, G. D. Karner, G. Manatschal, L. M. Pinheiro
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A finite-element model is used to simulate Late Jurassic–Early Cretaceous rifting between the Flemish Cap and Galicia Bank continental margins. The model results show that variations in the thickness of the continental crust on these margins at wavelengths greater than about 75 km can be explained as a consequence of the interaction of two pre-existing weaknesses in the lithosphere. A weakness in the crust, attributed to structural fabrics in the Variscan front, controls the location of crustal extension during the early stages of rifting in the model. This results in formation of a broad rift basin similar to the Galicia Interior Basin. A deep-seated weakness located 110 km further west, attributed to the thick crust beneath the central Variscan Orogen, controls the location of mantle necking. Extension in this region is initially diffuse, but accelerates and becomes more focused with time. Approximately 13 million years after rifting begins, the locus of crustal extension shifts from the region of pre-weakened crust into the region of pre-weakened mantle. This marks the end of subsidence in the Galicia Interior Basin and the onset of subsidence in the Flemish Cap and Galicia Bank marginal basins. Extension in these areas continues for another 12 million years before continental breakup. The asthenosphere does not ascend to depths shallow enough for decompression melting to begin until less than 5 million years before the onset of sea-floor spreading. The model predicts that all late-stage synrift magmatism during this period is limited to within 45 km of the rift axis, and production of melt thicknesses greater than 2 km is restricted to within 35 km of the rift axis. Mantle potential temperatures of 1250–1275 °C, ∼5–30 °C cooler than normal, result in 3.1–4.5 km-thick oceanic crust at the time of breakup, in general agreement with the 2–4 km thick crust observed adjacent to these margins.
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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.