Neogene evolution of the Atlantic continental margin of NW Europe (Lofoten Islands to SW Ireland): Anything but passive

M.S. Stoker, D. Praeg, P.M. Shannon, B.O. Hjelstuen, J.S. Laberg, T. Nielsen, T.C.E. van Weering, H.P. Sejrup, D. Evans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingspeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


A regional stratigraphic framework for the Neogene succession along and across the NW European margin is presented, based on a regional seismic and sample database. The stratigraphy provides constraints on the timing and nature of the mid- to late Cenozoic differential tectonic movements that have drivenmajor changes in sediment supply, oceanographic circulation and climate (culminating in continental glaciation). The overall context for Neogene deposition on the margin was established in the mid-Cenozoic, when rapid, km-scale differential subsidence (sagging) created the present-day deep-water basins. The Neogene is subdivided into lower (Miocene-lower Pliocene) and upper (lower Pliocene-Holocene) intervals. The lower Neogene contains evidence of early to mid-Miocene compressive tectonism, including inversion anticlines and multiple unconformities that record uplift and erosion of basin margins, as well as changes in deep-water currents. These movements culminated in a major expansion of contourite drifts in the mid-Miocene, argued to reflect enhanced deep-water exchange across the Wyville-Thomson Ridge Complex, via the Faroe Conduit. The distribution and amplitude of the intra-Miocene movements are consistent with deformation and basin margin flexure in response to enhanced intra-plate compressive stresses during a local plate reorganization (transfer of the Jan Mayen Ridge from Greenland to Europe). The upper Neogene records a seaward tilting (<1°) of the margin from the early Pliocene, in which km-scale uplift and erosion was accompanied by increased offshore subsidence, resulting in a major seaward progradation of the shelf-slope wedge as well as deep-marine erosion during a reorganization of bottom current patterns. The large amplitude of tilting cannot be accounted for by intra-plate stress variations, but is consistent with a dynamic topographic response to upper mantle convection, in particular edge-driven flow beneath the continental margin. Sedimentary and oceanographic changes resulting from dynamic topographic responses to the evolution of upper mantle convective flow during ocean widening may be characteristic of the development of 'passive' continental margins.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPetroleum Geology: North-West Europe and Global Perspectives ‒ Proceedings of the 6th Petroleum Geology Conference
EditorsA.G. Doré, B.A. Vining
Place of PublicationBath
PublisherGeological Society of London
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-186239412-4
ISBN (Print)978-186239164-2, 1-86239-164-5
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Event6th Petroleum Geology Conference - Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Oct 20039 Oct 2003

Publication series

SeriesPetroleum Geology Conference series


Conference6th Petroleum Geology Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Glaciation
  • Neogene
  • NW European Atlantic margin
  • Ocean circulation
  • Tectonics

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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