Anomalous Cenozoic subsidence along the 'passive' continental margin from Ireland to mid-Norway

S. Ceramicola, M. Stoker, D. Praeg, P.M. Shannon, L. De Santis, R. Hoult, B.O. Hjelstuen, S. Laberg, A. Mathiesen

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Two-dimensional flexural backstripping and thermal modelling (assuming uniform stretching and cooling) is applied to four interpreted, depth-converted seismic profiles across the Rockall, Faroe-Shetland and Vøring basins, along 1600 km of the Atlantic continental margin of NW Europe. The results reveal a significant discrepancy between the modelled palaeo-depths for the base of the Cenozoic succession and those proven by geological evidence at control points (subaerial conditions or depositional depth ranges in wells). The discrepancy is of Rm-scale, much larger than the possible range of parameter error determined by sensitivity tests (up to 0.5 km). Assuming a Cretaceous rift episode (100 Ma), the discrepancy is at least 1.7 km in the Rockall Basin, up to 2.1 km in the Faroe-Shetland Basin and at least 1 km in the Vøring Basin (which also contains evidence of kilometre-scale uplift of the inner margin). Assuming (unproven) a second rift in the early Cenozoic (60 Ma), the discrepancy remains of kilometre-scale in the Rockall and Faroe-Shetland basins. The restorations also provide evidence of uplift, both above compressive structures and across the modelled profiles as seaward rotations of palaeo-bathymetric records. The palaeo-bathymetric discrepancy corresponds to an anomaly in subsidence that is the cumulative product of all the tectonic episodes that have affected the NW European margin, and may incorporate both permanent effects of the last episode of lithospheric extension and transient responses to the interaction of the margin with mantle convective flow. Any explanation must accommodate both the large magnitude of anomalous subsidence along the margin and evidence of its episodic character.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1067
Number of pages23
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • 2D flexural backstripping
  • North European margin
  • Subsidence

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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