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Abstract

Mesozoic extensional basins of the Southern Permian Basin (SPB) System became inverted from Late Cretaceous time onwards. Following a first Cretaceous ‘Subhercynian’ pulse of contractional deformation and basin uplift, several distinct inversion events of Cenozoic age were often described. The oldest of these is the ‘Laramide’ event of Paleocene age which coincides with the termination of chalk deposition and widespread regression around the North Sea Basin, whose axial part continued to subside. The spatial extent of these effects is too wide to be compatible with inversion by folding and reverse faulting. The width of the uplifting and subsiding regions was also too large to be consistent with folding of the entire lithosphere under tangential compression. There appears to be no unequivocal evidence of discrete structures formed or reactivated in the Laramide event. By contrast, well-documented younger inversion of approximately Late Eocene to Late Oligocene–(Miocene?) age affected the region from the Celtic Sea to the western Netherlands. The associated deformation is weaker than that of the Late Cretaceous event and spatially overlaps with it only in the Southern North Sea. Structural inversion of the SPB thus comprised only two events separated in time and mostly also in space.

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