Abstract

The northeast of the Russian Arctic is a deep-water basin underlain by the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges, with the Makarov basin in between. In most of this area, the water depth is ~1–4 km and the crust is thick (20–30 km), with a well-pronounced granitic layer. Therefore, some researchers regard this crust as continental. Others think that this is the oceanic crust, the same as that on the hotspots like Iceland in the Atlantic or Ontong Java in the Pacific. After their activity stops, such structures must subside as a result of the crust and mantle cooling, in the same way as the oceanic crust on a spreading axis. As regards the Lomonosov and Mendeleev Ridges, they subsided in quite a different way. In the absence of volcanism, they remained near sea level, almost not subsiding, for a long time (at least 70 and 190 myr, respectively). Since the late Early Miocene, these areas subsided rapidly and deep-water sediments overlay shallow-water ones. In the same epoch, the Makarov basin subsided rapidly, which also used to lie near sea level. Its subsidence was several times that which could have taken place over the same period of time as a result of lithosphere cooling on an extinct hotspot. Such tectonic movements were possible only for the continental crust. The data on the structure of the sedimentary cover preclude considerable lithospheric stretching in these areas. Therefore, the rapid subsidence is accounted for by the transformation of gabbro in the lower crust into denser rocks (garnet granulites and eclogites), catalyzed by infiltration of a mantle-derived fluid flows. Dense, deeply metamorphosed mafic rocks with a thickness of up to 10–20 km and P-wave velocities of ~8 km/s underlie the Moho in the area under study.

You do not currently have access to this article.