Episodic burial and exhumation of the southern Baltic Shield: Epeirogenic uplifts during and after break-up of Pangaea

Peter Japsen, Paul F. Green, Johan M. Bonow, Mikael Erlström

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Cratons are conventionally assumed to be areas of long-term stability. However, whereas Precambrian basement crops out across most of the Baltic Shield, Palaeozoic and Mesozoic sediments rest on basement in southern Sweden, and thus testify to a complex history of exhumation and burial. Our synthesis of published stratigraphic landscape analysis and new apatite fission-track analysis data reveals a history involving five steps after formation of the extremely flat, Sub-Cambrian Peneplain. (1) Cambrian to Lower Triassic rocks accumulated on the peneplain, interrupted by late Carboniferous uplift and exhumation. (2) Middle Triassic uplift removed the Palaeozoic cover along the south-western margin of the shield, leading to formation of a Triassic peneplain with a predominantly flat relief followed by deposition of Upper Triassic to Lower Jurassic rocks. (3) Uplift that began during the Middle Jurassic to earliest Cretaceous caused denudation leading to deep weathering that shaped an undulating, hilly relief that was buried below Upper Cretaceous to Oligocene sediments. (4) Early Miocene uplift and erosion produced the South Småland Peneplain with scattered hills. (5) Early Pliocene uplift raised the Miocene peneplain to its present elevation leading to reexposure of the sub-Cretaceous hilly relief near the coast. Our results thus provide constraints on the magnitude and timing of episodes of deposition and removal of significant volumes of Phanerozoic rocks across the southern portion of the Baltic Shield. Late Carboniferous, Middle Triassic and mid-Jurassic events of uplift and exhumation affected wide areas beyond the Baltic Shield, and we interpret them as epeirogenic uplifts accompanying fragmentation of Pangaea, caused by accumulation of mantle heat beneath the supercontinent. Early Miocene uplift affected north-west Europe but not East Greenland, and thus likely resulted from compressive stresses from an orogeny on the Eurasian plate. Early Pliocene uplift related to changes in mantle convection and plate motion affected wide areas beyond North-East Atlantic margins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-377
Number of pages21
JournalGondwana Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • Exhumation
  • Landforms
  • Pangaea
  • Sweden
  • Thermochronology

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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