Abstract

—The available body of geological and geophysical data indicates that the morphologic structures of the Central Arctic submarine elevations complex (CAE) form a single complex block of continental crust that broke away from the Barents–Kara continental margin in the late Paleocene. Seismostratigraphic interpretation of the multichannel seismic reflection data acquired within the CAE, based on seismostratigraphic benchmarks confirmed by drilling and continuous tracing of pre-Cenozoic unconformities from the offshore North Chukchi Trough to its deep-water extension (Vilkitsky Trough), makes it possible to draw the following conclusions: The sedimentary-basin depocenters of the Vilkitsky Trough and Chukchi basin include pre-Upper Jurassic sediments in addition to Cretaceous complexes. However, the former are not common in the rest area of the CAE.

Synrift extension of the continental crust is the key factor that affected the tectonic evolution of morphologic structures of the Central Arctic basin. Multichannel seismic reflection data show the clearest signs of the synrift extension in the Lomonosov Ridge, Mendeleev Rise, Chukchi plateau, and their flanks sloping to the sedimentary basins of the Vilkitsky Trough and Chukchi basin. At the same time, the depocenters of these sedimentary basins formed by pre-Upper Jurassic deposits are characterized by an almost undisturbed bedding of all sedimentary complexes.

Pre-Upper Jurassic deposits might be interpreted as a relic of the Ellesmerian structural stage preserved in the deep-water extension of the North Chukchi Trough since the preoceanic evolution stage. Pre-Upper Jurassic complexes seem to be affected by deep rift activity only within the elevations of the Central Arctic area and near-flank zones of the depressions separating them. Pre-Upper Jurassic deposits in the sedimentary basin depocenters of the Vilkitsky Trough and Chukchi basin structurally linked to the shallow-water shelf were barely affected by the rifting processes. The tectonic evolution of the depocenters and their submergence relative to the flank zones might have been affected not only by crustal extension processes but also by compensation mechanisms.

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