A seismic-refraction study on the outer Scotian Shelf of eastern Canada, carried out using large air-gun sources and ocean bottom seismograph receivers, has provided structural information on the entire crustal column. A thick (about 13 km) sedimentary sequence is characterized by significant lateral variation in this area, and a marked increase in seismic velocity around 8 km depth may delineate the synrift–postrift transition. Beneath the sediments is highly attenuated continental crust, about 11 km thick, with some evidence for a lower crustal layer of velocity around 7 km/s, which may be partly due to under-plating during rifting. Determination of the complete crustal structure, including the tentative delineation of the rift–drift transition, in a region of large crustal extension provides a useful test for models of continental rifting, and a simple uniform extension–subsidence model is found to produce an adequate fit to the interpreted structure.

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