The spatial distribution of large-scale crustal domains and their boundaries are investigated in the North Sea area by combining gravity, magnetic and seismic data. The North Sea is situated on the plates of three continents, Avalonia, Laurentia and Baltica, which collided during the Caledonian orogeny in the middle Palaeozoic. The location and continuation of the collisional sutures are debated. We apply filters and transformations to potential field data to focus on the crystalline crust and uppermost mantle on a regional scale in order to extract new information on continental sutures. The transformations reveal intrinsic features of crustal transitions between the Caledonian plates and their relation to later extensional structures. The transformations include the Hough Transform applied to the gravity field, calculation of fractional derivatives and integrals of the gravity and magnetic fields, the pseudogravity field and the horizontal gradient field as well as upward continuation. The results indicate a fundamental difference between the lithosphere of Avalonia, Laurentia and Baltica. The location of the Mesozoic rift system (the Central Graben and Viking Graben), may have been partly determined by the presence of the sutures between these three plate, indicative of extensional reactivation of compressional structures. A significant lineament across the entire North Sea between Scotland and North Germany indicates that the lower crust of Baltica provenance may extend as far south-westward as to this lineament. Comparison of the power spectra of the gravity field in five selected areas shows significant differences in the long wavelength components between the areas north and south of the lineament corresponding to differences in crustal properties. This lineament could represent the suture between lithosphere of Caledonian origin (Avalonia) versus lithosphere of Precambrian origin (Baltica) in the lower crust and upper mantle. If this is the case, the lineament is the missing link in the reconstruction of the triple plate collision.
- Programområde 4: Mineralske råstoffer