Contractional structures (large anticlines and synclines, reverse faults and inverted centres of deposition) of assumed Late Cretaceous–Cenozoic age are common in Cretaceous–Tertiary basins of the northwestern European margin. The similarities in style, orientation and timing of these structures are striking. The present detailed analysis of one anticline (the Ormen Lange Dome) of the mid-Norwegian continental shelf indicates that the total contraction is moderate (less than 2–3%), and that the analysed anticline has been growing almost continuously since its initiation in Eocene till Present. Inversion in the Barents Sea started already in the Late Cretaceous. This episode is suggested to be related to far-field effects of active plate-margin processes, and transfer of stresses across the plate as a consequence of the sub Hercynian and Paleocene `Laramide' event of the Alpine Orogeny. The development of co-axial structures was facilitated by stress focusing along pre-existing, high-relief N–S- and NE–SW-trending fault complexes. Far-field plate tectonic stresses originating mainly from the Alpine Orogeny seem to have been the most important cause of contractional deformation on the NW European shelf. In addition, ridge push from the North Atlantic spreading may have contributed significantly, particularly during the Neogene.
Tectonophysics – Elsevier
Published: Dec 31, 1998
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