The geological record exposed on Nuussuaq, central West Greenland, shows that uplift in the Palaeocene, probably caused by impact of the Iceland plume head, was followed by kilometre-scale subsidence. Analysis of apatite fission-track and vitrinite-reflectance data from borehole samples down to 3 km depth reveals that the samples cooled from maximum palaeotemperatures between 40 and 30 Ma followed by two further cooling episodes beginning in the intervals 11-10 and 7-2 Ma. When the first cooling episode began, the samples from the neighbouring Gro-3 and Gane-1 boreholes were buried 1500-2000 m deeper than at the present day, and the palaeogeothermal gradient was 40-48°C km -1. It is not clear whether this cooling involved exhumation or if it was due solely to reduction in heat flow and a drop in surface temperature. The two later episodes definitely involved exhumation because by then the palaeogeothermal gradient had declined to a value close to the assumed present value of 30°C km -1, which agrees with estimates from offshore wells. The most recent cooling episode corresponds to the incision of the present-day relief (c. 1100 m) below the summits around the two boreholes. We conclude that the present-day high mountains of West Greenland were not uplifted during the Palaeogene, but are erosional remnants of a landmass uplifted during the Neogene.
- Programområde 4: Mineralske råstoffer