Lithological and structural controls on the emplacement and morphology of sills in sedimentary basins
Published:January 01, 2008
Ken Thomson, Nick Schofield, 2008. "Lithological and structural controls on the emplacement and morphology of sills in sedimentary basins", Structure and Emplacement of High-Level Magmatic Systems, K. Thomson, N. Petford
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Three-dimensional seismic data from the NW European Atlantic margin provide detailed data on the relationships between sills, dykes, laccoliths and pre-existing basin structure. The data show that sills are predominantly concave-upwards in shape, being complete or partial versions of radially or bilaterally symmetrical forms that possess flat inner saucers connected to a flat outer rim by a steeply inclined sheet. Sills can be sourced from the steep climbing portions of deeper sills, and can be shown to exploit pre-existing faults to feed shallower sills and laccoliths. Magma flow patterns, as revealed by opacity rendering, suggest that sills propagate upwards and outwards away from the magma feeder. As an individual sill can consist of several leaves emplaced at different stratigraphic levels, and as a sill or dyke can provide magma to other sills and laccoliths, the data suggest that neutral buoyancy concepts may not provide a complete explanation for the mechanism and level of sill emplacement. Instead, the data suggest that the presence of ductile horizons such as overpressured shales may permit sill formation below the neutrally buoyant level. Emplacement below the level of neutral buoyancy would permit sill inflation, and the associated fracturing of the country rock would permit magma to exploit these pathways in order to ascend to shallower levels and feed shallower intrusions.
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Structure and Emplacement of High-Level Magmatic Systems
There are continual rounds of annual conferences, special sessions and other symposia that provide ample opportunity for researchers to convene and discuss igneous processes. However, the origins of laccoliths and sills continue to inspire and confound geologists.
In one sense, this is surprising. After all, don’t we know all we need to know about these rocks by now? As testified by the diverse range of topics covered in this volume, the answer is clearly ‘no’.
This book contains contributions on physical geology, igneous petrology, volcanology, structural geology, crustal mechanics and geophysics that cover the entire gambit of geological processes associated with the shallow emplacement of magma. High-level intrusions in sedimentary basins can also act as hydrocarbon reservoirs and as sources for thermal maturation.
In drawing together a diversity of perspectives on the emplacement of sills, laccoliths and dykes we hope to advance further our understanding of their behaviour.