The Cenozoic sedimentary record revealed by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program's Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) to the Lomonosov Ridge microcontinent in 2004 is characterized by an unconformity attributed to the period 44–18 Ma. According to conventional thermal kinematic models, the microcontinent should have subsided to >1 km depth owing to rifting and subsequent separation from the Barents–Kara Sea margin at 56 Ma. We propose an alternative model incorporating a simple pressure-temperature (P-T) relation for mantle density. Using this model, we can explain the missing stratigraphic section by post-breakup uplift and erosion. The pattern of linear magnetic anomalies and the spreading geometry imply that the generation of oceanic crust in the central Eurasia Basin could have been restricted and confined by non-volcanic thinning of the mantle lithosphere at an early stage (ca. 56–40 Ma). In response to a rise in temperature, the mantle mineral composition may have changed through breakdown of spinel peridotite and formation of less dense plagioclase peridotite. The consequence of lithosphere heating and related mineral phase transitions would be post-breakup uplift followed by rapid subsidence to the deep-water environment observed on the Lomonosov Ridge today.

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