Upper Jurassic – Lower Cretaceous of eastern Wollaston Forland, North-East Greenland: a distal marine record of an evolving rift

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Two drill cores covering the Upper Jurassic – Lower Cretaceous succession in eastern Wollaston Forland, NE Greenland, offer an exceptional insight into 20 myr of mud-accumulation in an evolving distal fault block. Previous studies have revealed the presence of long-lasting black mudstone accumulation extending through the oxygen-restricted early rift and rift climax phases (Bernbjerg and Lindemans Bugt Formations). Here, we revisit the depositional evolution recorded in these cores in order to present a complete and detailed description of the sedimentary succession extending into the late syn-rift settings (Palnatokes Bjerg and Stratumbjerg Formations). Altogether, the deposits are divided into 7 facies with 7 sub-facies. The results indicate that the Kimmeridgian – lower Volgian early rift-phase was characterized by suspension settling, laminae-scale event deposition and traction currents in a tectonically-affected, prodeltaic offshore setting. The event and current-related depositional processes are expressed by starved wave-ripples, scour-and-fill structures, putative mud floccule ripples, and mud-dominated gravity-flow deposits. In addition, laminae sets interpreted as wave-enhanced gravity-flow deposits occur recurringly. During the middle Volgian – Ryazanian rift climax phase, the depositional environment evolved into a narrow half-graben that was detached from the proximal depocentre flanking the coarse sediment fueled deltaic coastline. The correlative sedimentary facies in the detached half-graben are bioclastic and pyrite-rich black mudstones documenting suspension settling and gravity flow/mass wasting deposition in sub-storm wave-base slope and basin-floor environments. Black shale sedimentation ended abruptly in the late Ryazanian when the accumulation of condensed, bioturbated deep sea marls was initiated linked to broader oceanographic reorganization concomitant with waning rift activity in the west. Deposition of red bioclastic mudstones with a common gravity-flow component characterized the Hauterivian, potentially representing final draping of the submerged fault block crest. The top of the cored succession is demarcated by the appearance of dark grey bioturbated mudstones of Barremian age, reflecting the onset of regionally continuous deep-sea mud accumulation in thermally subsidizing basins. Although superficially monotonous, detailed facies analysis of the mudstone-dominated succession exhibited by the two cored boreholes reveals a highly dynamic depositional system that reflects shifting marine processes during almost a full rift cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8349
Number of pages20
JournalGEUS Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2023


  • Bernbjerg Formation
  • Early Cretaceous
  • Greenland
  • Late Jurassic
  • Lindemans Bugt Formation
  • mudstone
  • Palnatokes Bjerg Formation
  • Stratumbjerg Formation

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources

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