“Conjugate margins” – An oversimplification of the complex southern North Atlantic rift and spreading system?

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Alexander Lewis Peace, J. K. Welford


The prevalence of conjugate margin terminology and studies in the scientific literature is testimony to the contribution that this concept and approach has made to the study of passive margins, and more broadly extensional tectonics. However, when applied to the complex rift, transform and spreading system of the southern North Atlantic (i.e. the passive margins of Newfoundland, Labrador, Ireland, Iberia and southern Greenland), it becomes obvious that at these passive continental margin settings additional geological phenomena complicate this convenient description. These aspects include: 1) the preservation of relatively undeformed continental fragments, 2) formation of transform systems and oblique rifts, 3) triple junctions (with both rift and spreading-axes), 4) multiple failed rift axes, 5) post-breakup processes such as magmatism, 6) localised subduction, and 7) ambiguity in identification of oceanic isochrons. Comparison of different published reconstructions of the region show ambiguity in conducting conjugate margin studies. This demonstrates the need for a more pragmatic approach to the study of continental passive margin settings where a greater emphasis is placed on the inclusion of these possibly complicating features in palinspastic reconstructions, plate tectonic, and evolutionary models.




Earth Sciences, Geology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Tectonics and Structure


plate tectonics, Geophysics, seismic reflection, Canada, rifting, conjugate margins, GPlates, North Atlantic, passive margins, plate reconstruction


Published: 2019-10-13 08:17

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