The seismic stratigraphy of the sedimentary section that fills in the Tagus Abyssal Plain is specified by means of new multichannel seismic data. Six sedimentary sequence units are identified. These, ranging from Late Jurassic to Recent, have been dated by extrapolation of Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) and Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) drilling results and from sampling by dredging and submersible surveys. Based on this stratigraphic calibration and other geophysical data, a geodynamic evolution can be established for the Tagus Abyssal Plain. Faulting and folding in these sedimentary units clearly indicate that both the Portuguese Margin and the adjacent oceanic crust were deformed by a Miocene compressive event. An Oxfordian–Kimmeridgian rifting in the Lusitanian Basin and on the Portuguese Margin may herald a sea-floor spreading in the Tagus Abyssal Plain. The continent–ocean boundary is marked by landward-dipping reflectors similar to those observed along the Canadian margin. The oceanic structure of the Tagus Abyssal Plain is compared with those of the small oceans and (or) slow-spreading-rate centres. The eastern Tagus Abyssal Plain could be underlain by a Latest Jurassic (M-21)–Earliest Cretaceous (M16) spreading centre that was abandoned in Earliest Cretaceous (142 Ma), whereas the western Tagus Abyssal Plain could be underlain by a younger crust (from M10 to J) formed after a ridge jump. This younger oceanic domain may have a western complement in the Newfoundland Basin.

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