Tectonostratigraphy and evolution of the West Greenland continental margin

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Large structural highs and sedimentary basins are identified from mapping of the West Greenland continental margin from the Labrador Sea to the Baffin Bay. We present a new tectonic elements map and a map of thickness from the seabed to the basement of the entire West Greenland margin. In addition, a new stratigraphic scheme of the main lithologies and tectonostratigraphy based on ties to all offshore exploration wells is presented together with seven interpreted seismic sections. The work is based on interpretation of more than 135 000 km of 2D seismic reflection data supported by other geophysical data, including gravity-and magnetic data and selected 3D seismic data, and is constrained by correlation to wells and seabed samples. Eight seismic mega-units (A–H) from the seabed to the basement, related to distinct tectonostratigraphic phases, were mapped. The oldest units include pre-rift basins that contain Proterozoic and Palaeozoic successions. Cretaceous syn-rift phases are characterised by development of large extensional fault blocks and basins with wedge-shaped units. The basin strata include Cretaceous and Palaeogene claystones, sandstones and conglomerates. During the latest Cretaceous, Paleocene and Eocene, crustal extension followed by oceanic crust formation took place, causing separation of the continental margins of Greenland and Canada with north-east to northward movement of Greenland. From Paleocene to Eocene, volcanic rocks dominated the central West Greenland continental margin and covered the Cretaceous basins. Development of the oceanic crust is associated with compressional tectonics and the development of strike-slip and thrust faults, pull-apart basins and inversion struc-tures, most pronounced in the Davis Strait and Baffin Bay regions. During the late Cenozoic, tectonism diminished, though some intra-plate vertical adjustments occurred. The latest basin development was characterised by formation of thick Neogene to Quaternary marine successions including contourite drifts and glacial related shelf progradation towards the west and south-west.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cretaceous and cenozoic sedimentary basins
  • Rifted margin
  • Seismic geo sections
  • Structural elements map
  • Tectonostratigraphy
  • West Greenland

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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