The history of the 2.5 million km2 Amerasia Basin (sensu lato) is in many ways the least known in the global tectonic system. Radically different hypotheses proposed to explain its origin are supported only by inconclusive and/or indirect observations and several outstanding issues on the origin of the Basin remain unaddressed. The difficulty lies in the geodynamic evolution and signature of the Basin being overprinted by excess volcanism of the Alpha-Mendeleev Ridge complex, part of the High Arctic Large Igneous Province (HALIP) and one of the largest (>1 million km2) and most intense magmatic and magnetic complexes on Earth. Here, we present the results of a 550,000km2 aerogeophysical survey over the poorly explored Lomonosov Ridge (near Greenland) and adjoining Amerasia and Eurasia Basins that provides the first direct evidence for consistent linear magnetic features between the Alpha and Lomonosov Ridges, enabling the tectonic origin of both the Amerasia Basin and the HALIP to be constrained. A landward Lower Cretaceous ( ~ 138 - 125(120) Ma) giant dyke swarm (minimum 350×800km2) and tentative oceanward Barremian (or alternatively lower Valanginian-Barremian) seafloor spreading anomalies are revealed. Prior to Cenozoic opening of the Eurasia Basin the giant dyke swarm stretched from Franz Josef Land to the southern Alpha Ridge and possibly further to Queen Elisabeth Islands, Canada. The swarm points towards a 250-km-wide donut-shaped anomaly on the southern Alpha Ridge, which we propose was the centre of the HALIP mantle plume, suggesting that pronounced intrusive activity, associated with an Alpha Ridge mantle plume, took place well before the Late Cretaceous Superchron and caused continental breakup in the northern Amerasia Basin. Our results imply that at least the southern Alpha Ridge as well as large parts of the area between the Lomonosov and southern Alpha Ridges are highly attenuated continental crust formed by poly-phase breakup with LIP volcanic addition. Significantly, our results are consistent with an early ( ~ pre-120 Ma) overall continental scale rotational opening of the Amerasia Basin in which the Eurasian continental margin is rifted from the Canadian-southern Alpha Ridge margin about one or more poles in the Mackenzie Delta (Alaska). The findings provide a key to resolving Arctic plate reconstructions and LIPs in the Mesozoic.
- Alpha Ridge
- Large Igneous Province
- Lomonosov Ridge
- Plate tectonics
- Programme Area 3: Energy Resources