The shape and volume of the Skaergaard intrusion, Greenland: Implications for mass balance and bulk composition

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Re-examination of the Skaergaard intrusion in the context of its regional setting, combined with new data from exploration drilling, has resulted in a revised structural model for the intrusion. It is modelled as an irregular box, c. 11 km from north to south, up to 8 km from east to west, and 3·4-4 km from the lower to the upper contact. The walls of the intrusion are inferred to follow pre-existing and penecontemporaneous steep faults, and the floor and roof seem largely controlled by bedding planes in the host sediments and lavas, similar to regional sills. The suggested shape and volume are in agreement with published gravimetric modelling. Crystallization along all margins of the intrusion concentrated the evolving melt in the upper, central part of the intrusion, best visualized as an 'onion-skin' structure inside the box. The total volume is estimated to c. 280 ± 23km 3, of which 13·7% are referred to the Upper Border Series (UBS), 16·4% to the Marginal Border Series (MBS) and 69·9% to the Layered Series (LS). In the LS, the Lower Zone (LZ) is estimated to constitute 66·8%, the Middle Zone (MZ) 13·5% and the Upper Zone (UZ) 19·7%. The new volume relationships provide a mass balance estimate of the major and trace element bulk composition of the intrusion. The parental magma to the Skaergaard intrusion is similar to high-Ti East Greenland tholeiitic plateau basalts with Mg number c. 0.45. The intrusion represents the solidification of contemporary plateau basalt magma trapped and crystallized under closed-system conditions in a crustal reservoir at the developing East Greenland continental margin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-530
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


  • Bulk composition
  • Emplacement
  • Mass proportions
  • Skaergaard intrusion
  • Structure

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources


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