The Neogene stratigraphy of the glaciated European margin from Lofoten to Porcupine
WP1 - NORTH SEA FAN-VØRING
Tectonic setting and evolution
The Norwegian continental margin between 62°N and 68°N is characterised by the NE-SW-trending Vøring and Møre basins (Fig. 15a, Fig. 15b and Fig. 15c). The Vøring and Møre marginal highs to the west and the Trøndelag Platform/Norwegian mainland to the east flank the basins. The Faroe-Shetland and Vøring escarpments separate the marginal highs from the basins, whilst the Jan Mayen Fracture Zone segments the Vøring and Møre margins. This structural configuration reflects Mesozoic–early Cenozoic continental rift events that led to the opening of the Norwegian-Greenland Sea (Brekke, 2000). The main structuration occurred in late Mid-Jurassic–Early Cretaceous time (Skogseid 1994; Blystad et al. 1995), whilst the Late Cretaceous arrival of the Iceland mantle plume ultimately led to continental break-up in latest Paleocene–earliest Eocene time (Skogseid et al. 2000).
Volcanism accompanied continental break-up. An elevated, sub-aerial spreading axis that existed in late Paleocene time (Fig. 15d) (Skogseid et al. 1992) extruded extensive flood basalts in the early Eocene as break-up occurred (Fig. 15e) (Eldholm et al. 1989; Eldholm & Grue 1994). These lavas built the Vøring and Møre marginal highs, and spilled over into the basins east of the Vøring and Faroe-Shetland escarpments. Following break-up, the Vøring and Møre margins underwent rapid thermal subsidence (Bukovics & Ziegler, 1985).
Greenland initially moved to the NW relative to Norway. Near the Eocene-Oligocene boundary a change in plate motion led to Greenland moving to the W-NW of Norway (Doré et al. 1999). Inversion domes and arches on the Norwegian margin were triggered by this event (Fig. 15f) (Doré & Lundin 1996). In the late Oligocene, sea-floor spreading along the Aegir Ridge ceased (Brekke 2000), and the present-day spreading axis, the Kolbeinsey Ridge, was activated. A regional unconformity at the Oligocene–Miocene boundary may be an expression of this plate reorganisation.
Sedimentation patterns and source areas
Cretaceous: Between 9 and 13km of sediment accumulated in the subsiding Vøring and Møre basins, whereas the platform sediments are thin or absent (Fig. 15b and Fig. 15c) (Brekke 2000; Skogseid et al. 2000). Sediment delivery was from the east and the west (Brekke 2000). Exploration wells in the Vøring Basin and on the Vøring Margin prove mainly clay with silt and sand stringers (Hjelstuen et al. 1999). In the Møre Basin, the Upper Cretaceous sediments consist of bioturbated mudstones and sandy turbidites (Gjelberg et al. 2001).
Paleocene: A thick sequence of sandy and muddy mass-flow deposits was deposited in the western Vøring Basin (Fig. 15b) (Hjelstuen et al. 1999; Spencer et al. 1999). These thin eastward and are absent over highs. Sediment eroded from the exposed Vøring Marginal High and intra-basinal fault blocks fed this depocentre. On the Møre Margin, a predominantly sandy sequence is thickest along the eastern flank of the basin (Fig. 15b). Sediment also prograded from the west, derived from the Møre Marginal High (Fig. 15d) (Martinsen et al. 1999; Brekke 2000). This clastic input may reflect contemporary uplift (Gjelberg et al. 2001).
Eocene: On the Vøring Margin, the Eocene section is well preserved in the Vøring Basin, but is thin or absent over structural highs and domes (Britsurvey, 1997). The sediments consist mainly of clay (Eidvin et al. 2000). On the Møre Margin, Eocene strata show an increase in thickness towards the west, but are locally very thin along its eastern margin. These deposits are also fine-grained, however sandstones are present (Martinsen et al. 1999). The absence of Eocene sediments over domes and ridges indicates that these features remained important source areas, in addition to the marginal highs (Fig. 15e). Myhre et al. (1992) have suggested that the marginal highs influenced sedimentation until they were buried in the late Oligocene.
Oligocene: Oligocene sediments are widespread, being thickest south of the Helland-Hansen Arch, and along the SW edge of the Vøring Basin, but are thin or absent over structural highs (Britsurvey 1999; Hjelstuen et al. 1999). The Norwegian mainland and present inner continental shelf was an important source area, expressed by the deltaic pebbly sands preserved on the Trøndelag Platform (Fig. 15f) (Henriksen & Vorren, 1996; Eidvin et al. 2000). Delta formation has been ascribed to hinterland erosion during a sea-level fall and tectonic-uplift event, possibly in the earliest Oligocene (Hjelstuen et al. 1999). On the Møre Margin, the Oligocene section reflects shelf-margin progradation (Martinsen et al. 1999). Commercial wells in the northern North Sea reveal mainly clay and silt with subordinate sand (Eidvin & Rundberg 2001)
Prior to the Cenozoic, the Norwegian margin was part of an epicontinental sea between Eurasia and Greenland (Myhre et al. 1992). The opening of the Norwegian-Greenland Sea created a potential gateway for the exchange of surface and deep waters between the Arctic and NE Atlantic oceans. In the earliest Eocene, surface-water interaction in the Norwegian-Greenland Sea was restricted as widespread extrusion of lavas and syn-rift uplift created a series of shallow basins (Eldholm et al. 1994). Mid- to late Eocene subsidence transformed the region into an ocean basin of modest size (Vogt et al. 1981; Eldholm et al. 1989). Whilst regional surface-water interaction may have existed, deep-water exchange was minimal (Eldholm & Thomas 1993). Sedimentation style (see above) precludes significant deep-water masses in the early Palaeogene (Thiede & Myhre 1996). Such a restriction on bottom-currents may have prevailed throughout the Palaeogene and into the late Miocene. This is still debated. Eldholm & Thomas (1993) argue that the present-day water exchange through the Norwegian-Greenland Sea first occurred in the late Miocene, due to the opening of the Fram Strait and the subsidence of the Greenland-Scotland Ridge. In contrast, Davies et al. (2001) suggest that deep-water circulation was established by early Oligocene time.
The Paleocene was a time of global warmth and reduced latitudinal temperature gradients compared with the present. Global warming peaked in latest Paleocene–early Eocene time (Thomas 1992) and O18 records indicate warm surface and deep waters. ODP sites on the Norwegian margin show that upper Paleocene–lower Eocene sediments were deposited in warm, humid conditions (Froget et al. 1989), and subaerial parts of the Vøring Margin were densely vegetated (Thiede et al. 1989). A warm climate persisted throughout the Eocene and Oligocene albeit with reduced humidity.
Blystad, P., Brekke, H., Færseth, R. B., Larsen, B. T., Skogseid, J. & Tørudbakken, B. 1995. Structural elements of the Norwegian continental shelf. Part II: The Norwegian Sea region. Norwegian Petroleum Directorate Bulletin, 8, 45 p.
Brekke, H. 2000. The tectonic evolution of the Norwegian Sea Continental Margin with emphasis on the Vøring and Møre Basins. In: Nøttvedt, A. et al. (eds), Dynamics of the Norwegian Margin. Geological Society, London, Special Publication, 167, 327-378.
Britsurvey. 1997. Seabed Project. Geological and Geophysical Interpretation in Møre/Vøring Area - Phase II. Report Number SP-16-BS-01R-0000-97.
Britsurvey. 1999. Seabed Project. Geological and Geophysical Interpretation in Møre/Vøring Area - Phase III, Stage 2. Final Report. Report Number SP-26-BS-03R-00000-99.
Bukovics, C. & Ziegler, P.A. 1985. Tectonic development of the Mid-Norway continental margin. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 2, 2-22.
Davies, R., Cartwright, J., Pike, J. & Line, C. 2001. Early Oligocene initiation of North Atlantic Deep Water formation. Nature, 410, 917-920
Doré, A.G., & Lundin, E.R. 1996. Cenozoic compressional structures on the NE Atlantic margin: nature, origin and potential significance for hydrocarbon exploration. Petroleum Geoscience, 2, 299-311.
Dorè, A., Lundin, E.R., Jensen,L.N., Birkeland, Ø., Eliassen, P.E. & Fichler, C. 1999. Principal tectonic events in the evolution of the northwest European Atlantic margin. In: Fleet, A.J. & Boldy, S.A.R. (eds), Petroleum Geology of Northwest Europe: Proceedings of the 5th Conference, Geological Society, London, 41-61.
Eidvin, T. & Rundberg, Y. 2001. Late Cainozoic stratigraphy of the Tampen area (Snorre and Visund fields) in the northern North Sea, with emphasis on the chronology of early Neogene sands. Norsk Geologisk Tidsskrift, 81, 119-160.
Eidvin, T., Jansen, E., Rundberg, Y., Brekke, H. & Grogan, P. 2000. The upper Cainozoic of the Norwegian continental shelf correlated with the deep sea record of the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 17, 579-600.
Eldholm, O. & Thomas, E. 1993. Environmental impact of volcanic margin formation. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 117, 319-329.
Eldholm, O. & Grue, K. 1994. North Atlantic volcanic margins: dimensions and production rates. Journal of Geophysical Research, 99, 2955-2968.
Eldholm, O., Thiede, J. & Taylor, E. 1989. Evolution of the Vøring volcanic margin. In: Eldholm, O., Thiede, J., Taylor, E., et al. (eds), Scientific Results, Ocean Drilling Program, 104: College Station, Tx (Ocean Drilling Program), 1033-1065.
Eldholm, O., Myhre, A.M. & Thiede, J. 1994. Cainozoic tectono-magmatic events in the North Atlantic: Potential paleoenvironmental implications. NATO ASI Series, I27, 35-55.
Froget, C., Desprairies, A., Latouche, C. & Maillet, N. 1989. Paleoenvironmental significance of Cenozoic clay deposits from the Norwegian Sea: ODP Leg 104. In: Eldholm, O., Thiede, J., Taylor, E., et al. (eds), Scientific Results, Ocean Drilling Program, 104: College Station, Tx (Ocean Drilling Program), 41-60.
Gjelberg, J.G., Enoksen, T., Kjærnes, P., Mangerud, G., Martinsen, O.J., Roe, E. & Vågnes, E. 2001. The Maastrichtian and Danian depositional setting, along the eastern margin of the Møre Basin (mid-Norwegian Shelf): implications for reservoir development of the Ormen Lange Field. In: Martinsen, O.J. & Dreyer, T. (eds.), Sedimentary Environments Offshore Norway — Palaeozoic to Recent. NPF Special Publication, 10, 421-440.
Henriksen, S. & Vorren, T.O. 1996. Late Cenozoic sedimentation and uplift history on the mid-Norwegian continental shelf. Global and Planetary Change, 12, 171-199
Hjelstuen, B.O., Eldholm., O. & Skogseid, J. 1999. Cenozoic evolution of the northern Vøring Margin. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 111, 1792-1807.
Martinsen, O. J. Bøen, F., Charnock, M.A., Mangerud, G. & Nøttvedt, A. 1999. Cenozoic development of the Norwegian margin 60-64oN: sequences and sedimentary response to variable basin physiography and tectonic setting. In: Fleet, A.J. & Boldy, S.A.R. (eds), Petroleum Geology of Northwest Europe: Proceedings of the 5th Conference, Geological Society, London, 293-304.
Myhre, A.M., Eldholm, O., Faleide, J.I., Skogseid, J., Gudlaugsson, S.T., Planke., S., Stuevold, L. & Vågnes, E. 1992. Norway-Svalbard Continental Margin: Structural and Stratigraphical styles. In: Poag, C.W. and de Graciansky, P.C. (eds), Geological Evolution of Atlantic Continental Margins, (New York: van Nostrand Reinhold), 157-185
Skogseid, J. 1994. Dimensions of the Late Cretaceous-Paleocene Northeast Atlantic rift derived from Cenozoic subsidence. Tectonophysics, 240, 225-247.
Skogseid, J., Pedersen, T. & Larsen, V. B. 1992. Vøring Basin: Subsidence and tectonic evolution. In: Larsen, R. M., Brekke, H., Larsen, B. T. & Talleraas, E. (eds), Structural and Tectonic Modelling and its Application to Petroleum Geology, Norwegian Petroleum Society Special Publication, 1, 55-82.
Skogseid, J., Planke, S., Faleide, J.I., Pedersen, T., Eldholm, O. & Neverdal, F. 2000. NE Atlantic continental rifting and volcanic margin formation. In: Nøttvedt, A. et al. (eds), Dynamics of the Norwegian Margin. Geological Society, London, Special Publication, 167, 295-326.
Spencer, A.M., Birkeland, Ø., Knag, G.Ø. & Fredsted, R. 1999. Petroleum systems of the Atlantic margin of the northwest Europe. In: Fleet, A.J. & Boldy, S.A.R. (eds), Petroleum Geology of Northwest Europe: Proceedings of the 5th Conference, Geological Society, London, 231-246.
Thiede, J. & Myhre, A.M. 1996. Introduction to the North AtlanticArctic Gateway: plate tectonicpaleoceanographic history and significance. In: Thiede, J., Myhre, A.M., Firth, J.V., Johnson, G.L. & Ruddiman, W. (eds.), Proceedings of Ocean Drilling Program, Scientific Results 151: College Station, Tx (Ocean Drilling Program), 3-23.
Thiede, J., Eldholm, O. & Taylor, E. 1989. Variability of Cainozoic Norwegian-Greenland Sea paleoceanography and Northern Hemisphere paleoclimate. In: Eldholm, O., Thiede, J., Taylor, E., et al. (eds), Scientific Results, Ocean Drilling Program, 104: College Station, Tx (Ocean Drilling Program), 1067-1118.
Thomas, E. 1992. Cenozoic deep-sea circulation: evidence from deep-sea benthic foraminifera. In: Kennet, J.P. & Warnke, D. (eds), The Antarctic paleoenvironment: a perspective on global change. AGU Antarctic Research Series, 56, 141-165.
Vogt, P. R., Perry, R.K., Feden, R.H., Fleming, H. & Cherkis, N.S. 1981. The Greenland-Norwegian Sea and Iceland environment: Geology and Geophysics. In: Nairn, A.E.M., Churkin, M. & Stenli, F.G. (eds), The Ocean Basins and Margins (Vol. 5), The Arctic Oceans, (New York: Plenum Press), 493-598.
This page was Last updated 17 September 2002