Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland Bulletin 30 - 2013

Stratigraphic landscape analysis, thermochronology and the episodic development of elevated, passive continental margins

Paul F. Green, Karna Lidmar-Bergström, Peter Japsen, Johan M. Bonow and James A. Chalmers

The uplift histories of passive continental margins constitute an important area of research, first of all because of their worldwide economic importance. Uplift and exhumation control the maturation processes of petroleum in marginal sedimentary basins.

The histories of subsidence and uplift of passive continental margins are challenging to study and not least to explain in satisfactory ways, and different approaches and schools of thought have developed among different research groups over time.

The present volume applies stringent landscape analysis and state-of-the-art thermochronology to several passive continental margins around the world. The great importance of relict sedimentary covers in elevated and tilted continental margins is demonstrated, and the strengths and limitations of apatite fission track thermochronology are laid out in detail.

The authors demonstrate with a pioneering study of the margin of West Greenland and several other case studies that elevated, passive continental margins are not the results of continuous denudation and slow uplift acting on permanent highs. Instead, many margins have experienced complex histories of repeated subsidence, deposition, uplift, tilting and erosion. The nature of these processes is not yet well understood, but the regional extent of the vertical movements documented here suggests a plate-scale control.