The emplacement of igneous material into upper crustal rocks of sedimentary basins is likely to be strongly controlled by the geometry of the pre-existing basin structures. These controls are investigated using examples from the Tertiary igneous complexes of Skye, part of the Sea of Hebrides basin of NW Scotland. The basin consists of an array of half-graben related to SE-dipping normal faults. These pre-volcanic, Mesozoic structures are traced near the igneous complexes using geological relationships preserved unconformably beneath the widespread basaltic lava fields. The unconformity represents a period of Cretaceous uplift and denudation of the basin and its flanks, entirely pre-dating the Tertiary volcanism of NW Scotland. This unconformity seals stratigraphically the major basin faults, preserving field relationships that permit the tracing of these faults in the country rocks to the Tertiary intrusions. The major Camasunary fault is separated from the Raasay fault via a series of minor graben, linked by a series of steep, NW–SE-trending faults that transfered Mesozoic displacements between the principal fault strands.

A broad range of igneous material of various compositions was intruded into part of the Mesozoic Sea of Hebrides basins and their flanks during Palaeocene times. Different emplacement styles and different structural controls are found. The major gabbroic centres do not appear to be controlled by upper crustal structures, having been emplaced into the footwalls of major faults. However, minor synmagmatic displacements on the basin faults may have been sufficient to generate dilatational sites in these footwall positions, thereby facilitating emplacement. In contrast, the granitic melts have been emplaced as sheets and domed into the sediments and overlying lava pile, reactivating segments of the basin fault network. Doming occurred from an array of sills, the stratigraphic levels of which can be reconstructed using structural relationships preserved in the roofs and walls of the intrusions. The sill levels and their transgressive forms are strongly related to inferred Mesozoic basin structures. The major fold structures of Tertiary age in southern Skye are interpreted as accommodating granitic emplacement rather than crustal shortening. The NW-SE Mesozoic transfer fault trend appears to have strongly influenced the segmentation of the granite domes. These interpretations are illustrated using field relationships mapped in the vicinity of the Coire Uaigneich granophyre. It is concluded that although the higher parts of the basin faults were reactivated to facilitate the doming of granitic intrusions, the deeper levels of the Mesozoic faults show no evidence of substantial reactivation.

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