The causal relationship between the Cenozoic sequence development in the southeastern North Sea Basin and sea-level changes, climatic fluctuations and tectonic events is unravelled by relating variations in the relative sea level and base level, based on interpretations of seismic surveys, to published δ18O variations and eustatic changes. The latter curve is based on the Earth's orbital forcing, and here informally termed as the GSI curve. The analysis shows that the Cenozoic sequence development in the southeastern North Sea was influenced by climatically and tectonically induced sea-level changes. The major Cenozoic sequence stratigraphic boundaries (lower order) are highly influenced by tectonic events, e.g. uplift of Fennoscandia and increased subsidence rates in the basin centre. Reactivation of Mesozoic fault zones controlled the deposition of minor sand bodies transported to the centre of the basin during the Late Palaeocene by mass flows. The location of an Oligocene mound structure, which constitutes part of a sequence, is controlled by the overall palaeotopography of the basin and local fault-related depressions.

Correlation between (i) the ages of our sequences and the δ 18O variations in the Oligocene succession, and (ii) the GSI curve and the base-level fluctuations of the late Miocene and younger sequences, show that the generation of the higher order sequence boundaries were driven by glacio-eustatic sea-level changes. A climatic control of the sequence formation due to glacio-eustatic sea level changes is therefore suggested for the Oligocene and Pliocene sequences, and probably also for the Upper Miocene sequences.

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