Depleted and ultradepleted basalt and picrite in the Davis Strait: Paleocene volcanism associated with a transform continental margin

Lotte Melchior Larsen, Marie Claude Williamson

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Volcanic rocks from the Davis Strait were studied to elucidate the tectonomagmatic processes during rifting and the start of seafloor spreading, and the formation of the Ungava transform zone between Canada and Greenland. The rocks are from the wells Hekja O-71, Gjoa G-37, Nukik-2 and Hellefisk-1, and from dredges on the northern Davis Strait High. Ages range from Danian to Thanetian (dinocyst palynozones P2 to P5, 62.5-57.2 Ma). The rocks are predominantly basaltic, but include picrites on the Davis Strait High. Calculated mantle potential temperatures for the Davis Strait High are c. 1500°C, suggesting the volume of magma generated was large; this is consistent with geophysical evidence for magmatic underplating in the region. The rare earth element patterns indicate residual mantle lithologies of spinel peridotite and, together with Sr-Nd isotopes, indicate melting beneath regionally extensive, depleted asthenosphere beneath a lithosphere of thickness similar to, or thinner than, beneath Baffin Island and distinctly thinner than beneath West Greenland. Some sites include basalts with more enriched compositions. Depleted and enriched basalts in the Hellefisk well show contemporaneous melting of depleted and enriched mantle components in the asthenosphere. The Hekja and Davis Strait High basalts and picrites have unique, ultradepleted compositions with (La/Sm)N < 0.5, (Tb/Lu)N < 1 and Nb/Zr = 0.013-0.027. We interpret these compositions as a product of the melting regime within the Ungava transform zone, where the melting column would be steep-sided in cross-section and not triangular as expected at normal spreading ridges. Magmatism along the transform stopped when the tectonic regime changed from transtension to transpression during earliest Eocene time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1983-2003
Number of pages21
JournalGeological Magazine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Canada
  • continental break-up
  • dredging
  • drilling
  • Greenland
  • North Atlantic
  • tectonomagmatic

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources


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