Crustal structure of the ocean-continent transition at Flemish Cap: Seismic refraction results

Thomas Funck, John R. Hopper, Hans Christian Larsen, Keith E. Louden, Brian E. Tucholke, W. Steven Holbrook

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We conducted a seismic refraction experiment across Flemish Cap and into the deep basin east of Newfoundland, Canada, and developed a velocity model for the crust and mantle from forward and inverse modeling of data from 25 ocean bottom seismometers and dense air gun shots. The continental crust at Flemish Cap is 30 km thick and is divided into three layers with P wave velocities of 6.0-6.7 km/s. Across the southeast Flemish Cap margin, the continental crust thins ? 90-km-wide zone to only 1.2 km. The ocean-continent boundary is near the base of Flemish Cap and is marked by a fault between thinned continental crust and 3-km-thick crust with velocities of 4.7-7.0 km/s interpreted as crust from magma-starved oceanic accretion. This thin crust continues seaward for 55 km and thins locally to ∼1.5 km. Below a sediment cover (1.9-3.1 km/s), oceanic layer 2 (4.7-4.9 km/s) is ∼1.5 km thick, while layer 3 (6.9 km/s) seems to disappear in the thinnest segment of the oceanic crust. At the seawardmost end of the line the crust thickens to ∼6 km. Mantle with velocities of 7.6-8.0 km/s underlies both the thin continental and thin oceanic crust in an 80-km-wide zone. A gradual downward increase to normal mantle velocities is interpreted to reflect decreasing degree of serpentinization with depth. Normal mantle velocities of 8.0 km/s are observed ∼6 km below basement. There are major differences compared to the conjugate Galicia Bank margin, which has a wide zone of extended continental crust, more faulting, and prominent detachment faults. Crust formed by seafloor spreading appears symmetric, however, with 30-km-wide zones of oceanic crust accreted on both margins beginning about 4.5 m.y. before formation of magnetic anomaly MO (∼118 Ma).

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue numberB11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Ocean-continent transition
  • Refraction seismics
  • Serpentinized mantle

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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