Abstract

The Loppa High area has been subject to several events of uplift and subsidence from the Late Paleozoic to Present. The driving mechanisms behind the vertical movements, however, are not fully understood. We propose that uplift and subsidence were influenced by the combination of density changes caused by metamorphic phase changes in a 90 × 140 km wide mafic lower crustal body below the Loppa High and local (rift-related) and far-field stress. Through a numerical modelling approach we analyse the tectonically induced variations in pressure and temperature in the lower crust, their influence on phase changes in the mafic body and the affiliated vertical movements. Results show that (1) densification of the mafic body caused by far-field compression associated with the late Triassic westward translation of Novaya Zemlya could cause surface subsidence, (2) heat and fluid influx provided by early Cretaceous rifting could trigger density reduction and surface uplift and (3) the present-day geometry of the Loppa High as observed in seismic data can be reproduced by combining the modelled effect of rift flank uplift and phase changes in the mafic body. Phase change-driven vertical movements may also have affected other structural highs in the western Barents Sea, including the Stappen High.

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