Abstract

Formation of a pronounced basement ridge along many transform continental margins has been attributed to a variety of processes during continental break-up, including transpressional crustal thickening, and thermal rejuvenation and igneous underplating during passage of a spreading ridge. ODP drill holes on the Côte d’Ivoire-Ghana margin now provide the first opportunity to quantify the vertical motions along this type of margin. Apatite fission-track dating of detrital sands suggests that large amounts of erosion occurred on the flanks of an intra-continental wrench zone that predated margin formation. Rapid cooling of >120°C at 120–115 Ma corresponds to erosion of 3.5–5 km along the conjugate Brazilian margin, reflecting c. 1 km of tectonically driven uplift, subaerial erosion, and isostatic uplift due to unloading. Following rift initiation at 120 Ma (Aptian), an oceanic spreading axis passed adjacent to this part of the margin at 90 Ma (Cenomanian). Maximum uplift during the ridge-transform intersection was 390 m, considerably less than the 2000+ m predicted by heat conduction models in local isostatic equilibrium. The modern ridge is partially the product of thicker crust (22 km) underlying the ridge than the adjacent Deep Ivorian Basin (19 km), and partially related to flexural unloading of the transform ridge between the end of intra-continental wrenching and ridge-transform intersection. Flexural coupling between the continental and oceanic plates since ridge-transform intersection has caused a progressive depression of the offshore margin, estimated at about 650 m in the study area.

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