The continent-ocean crustal transition across the southwest Greenland margin
Louden, K. E.
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The complete crustal transition across the nonvolcanic, southwest Greenland continental margin of the Labrador Sea is examined using wide-angle and coincident vertical-incidence seismic profiles. Six ocean bottom seismometers and a sonobuoy record P and S wave first and multiple arrivals from the crust and upper mantle, which are analyzed by 2D dynamic ray tracing and 1D reflectivity modeling. The resulting seismic velocity model requires that the preexisting 30-km thick continental crust is thinned abruptly to ~3 km across the continental slope, primarily by removal of the lower crust. Farther seaward, the crust thickens to ~6 km primarily through the addition of a high-velocity (7.0-7.6 km/s) layer in the lower crust. This lower crustal layer is 4-5 km thick, extends for a horizontal distance of ~80 km, and is interpreted as partially serpentinized upper mantle. It is overlain by a low-velocity (4.0-5.0 km/s), upper layer which is interpreted as highly fractured upper continental crust. The authors' model suggests that seafloor spreading did not start until chrons 27-28, 13 Ma younger than previously suggested. This interpretation is supported by 2D modeling of gravity and magnetic data along the refraction line. The results are consistent with a simple shear mechanism for the initial rifting, with the SW Greenland margin as the upper plate. However, a full characterization of the rifting mechanism must await comparison with a seismic model for the conjugate margin, east of Labrador
This article first appeared in:: Chian, Deping, and K. E. Louden. 1994. "The continent-ocean crustal transition across the southwest Greenland margin." Journal of Geophysical Research 99: 9117-35. DOI: 10.1029/93JB03404