Knowledge of compaction behaviour underpins basin modelling and pore-pressure estimation for drilling wells. Mudstones of the Cretaceous Lange and Kvitnos formations at Haltenbanken are diagenetically mature and overpressured with a pressure–depth profile that shows little lateral variation. From density logs, we made the unexpected discovery that porosities vary by a factor of two at depths of around 2700 m below seafloor, with greater porosities in the west, so we investigated possible causes for the variation. Exhumation cannot be the cause because the Cretaceous mudstones are presently at their maximum burial depths across most of the area. Nor are lateral variations in geothermal gradient high enough for diagenesis to be responsible for the lateral porosity differences. X-ray diffraction and grain-size analyses were conducted on cuttings but no significant lithological variations were found. We infer that the lateral differences in compaction trends developed because porewater escape was more inhibited in the west during recent rapid burial by glaciogenic sediments. Associated lateral variations in overpressure may subsequently have decayed. The novel finding in this study is that diagenetically mature mudstones at Haltenbanken display large lateral variations in porosity that cannot be attributed to lateral differences in overpressure, exhumation, temperature or lithology.