Seismic investigation of the East Greenland volcanic rifted margin

Trine Dahl-Jensen, W. Steven Holbrook, John R. Hopper, Peter B. Kelemen, Hans Christian Larsen, Robert Detrick, Stefan Bernstein, Graham Kent

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The SIGMA project (Seismic Investigation of the Greenland MArgin) was designed to make accurate measurements of crustal thickness, velocity structure and seismic reflectivity along the hotspot-influenced volcanic rifted margin (VRM) off South-East Greenland (Fig. 1). SIGMA is a joint project between researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (Woods Hole, Mass., USA) and the Danish Lithosphere Centre (DLC), and data was acquired on a cruise with R/V Maurice Ewing in August–October 1996. VRMs are characterised by a prism of igneous rocks that occupies the continent–ocean transition zone in an 80 to 150 km wide belt, several times thicker than normal oceanic crust, and which extends in some regions for more than 1500 km along strike. This thick igneous crust has two characteristics on seismic data: a seawarddipping reflector sequence (SDRS) interpreted as subaerially erupted basalt flows and intercalated volcanoclastics, and a high-velocity lower crust with P-wave velocities (7.2–7.6 km/s) suggestive of mafic to ultramafic intrusive rocks (Hinz, 1981; Mutter et al., 1982, 1984, 1988; Larsen & Jakobsdóttir, 1988; White & McKenzie, 1989; Holbrook & Kelemen, 1993). Several models for the thermal and mechanical processes involved in the formation of VRMs have been proposed, including: decompression melting during passive upwelling near a mantle plume (White & McKenzie, 1989); actively upwelling plume heads impinging on the base of the lithosphere (Richards et al., 1989; Duncan & Richards, 1991; Griffiths & Campbell, 1991); enhanced upper mantle convection driven by steep, cold lithospheric edges adjacent to the rift (Mutter et al., 1988) and hot upper mantle due to non-plume ‘hot cells’ or insulation by supercontinents (Gurnis, 1988). SIGMA consists of four transects systematically sampling the structure of the South-East Greenland margin and the continent–ocean transition at increasing distance from the Iceland hotspot track, in order to investigate the South-East Greenland VRM with respect to the following questions:
1) What is the structure of the transition from continental to thick igneous crust, and thence to normal oceanic crust? Is the transition abrupt or gradual? To what extent does faulting play a role? Does the abruptness of the continent–ocean boundary change with distance from the Iceland plume? 2) What was the total volume of magmatism during continental breakup on the South-East Greenland margin and its conjugates, and how does it vary in space and time? How does this magmatism relate to distance from the Iceland plume and to its temporal magmatic budget? What is the proportion of plutonic to volcanic rocks, and how does this vary with distance from the hotspot track and with total crustal thickness? 3) Does high velocity lower crust exist beneath the margin, and if so, is there any evidence that its composition, thickness, and distribution change along strike? How might such changes relate to variations in melting conditions (temperature and degree of melting) with distance from the plume? 4) Is the structure of the South-East Greenland margin symmetrical with its conjugate margins on the Hatton–Rockall Bank and Iceland–Faeroes Ridge? What combinations of pure shear and simple shear processes might explain the conjugate structures?
Sider (fra-til)50–54
Antal sider5
TidsskriftGeology of Greenland Survey Bulletin
StatusUdgivet - 1 jun. 1997


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