Geophysical insights on the crustal structure of Greenland's northern continental margin towards the Morris Jesup Spur

Andreas Brotzer, Thomas Funck, Wolfram H. Geissler, Karsten Piepjohn, Ingo Heyde, Kai Berglar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


During expedition PS115/1, the German research vessel Polarstern acquired seismic refraction data along a 102-km-long profile crossing Greenland's northern continental margin and extending up to the southwestern limit of the Morris Jesup Spur. A P–wave velocity model is obtained and validated by gravity modelling. A nearby seismic reflection line provides insights on the structures within the sedimentary cover. Beneath a 2-km-thick sedimentary cover with velocities of 1.8 km/s to 3.4 km/s, an up to 1.5-km-thick layer is characterized by velocities of 4.2 km/s and is interpreted to consist of volcanic rocks. This is consistent with proposed volcanic activity on the Morris Jesup Spur and exposed volcano-sedimentary rocks of the nearby Kap Washington Group. Below the volcanic rocks, an up to 7 km-thick unit with velocities of 4.4 to 5.8 km/s is interpreted to consist of metasedimentary rocks still belonging to the deformed units of the Franklinian Basin. The seismic reflection data image a tectonic overprint of the acoustic basement and the lowermost sedimentary layers. Tectonic faults indicating the tectonic overprint do not reach to the uppermost sedimentary layers. This hints at an older fracture zone that is also observed in the velocity model and aligns well with observed anomalies in the regional gravity and magnetic fields. The seismic velocity model reveals a highly extended continental crust that shows a magmatic overprint at all crustal levels. The upper crust is 5 km thick with a velocity of 6.0 km/s. However, in three distinct zones its thickness is up to 8 km and the velocity increases to 6.3 km/s. These zones are interpreted as magmatic intrusions into the upper crust. The lower crust represents a 9-km-thick high-velocity layer (7.2 km/s) that is interpreted as magmatic underplating or lower crustal sill intrusions. Such a high-velocity lower crust is not present in models of adjacent Arctic margins.

Original languageEnglish
Article number229588
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2022


  • Arctic Ocean
  • DeGeer zone
  • Morris Jesup Spur
  • Northern Greenland continental margin
  • OBS data
  • Seismic refraction experiment

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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