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Title: Resolving the timing of major erosion events along the West Greenland-Baffin-Bylot continental margins
Author: Jess, Scott
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2018
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Continental passive margins exhibit high elevation topography in many localities across the globe. The source and age of much of this topography remains a subject of great debate within the wider community, with numerous theories being presented, including significant post-rift uplift and isostatically preserved rift anks. Establishing the mechanisms that generate topography and the onshore evolution across passive margins is vital in understanding regional geological histories and their wider development. The passive margins of the NW Atlantic realm exhibit high elevation topography topped with low relief summits. The origin of this topography is debated, with both 3 km of uplift in the post-rift stage and the isostatic preservation of Cretaceous rift anks being suggested within the literature. The work of this thesis aims to resolve this debate by establishing the timing and source of uplift across the region and determining the onshore evolution prior to, during and after rifting with the application of apatite low temperature thermochronology. Contemporary analytical and modelling techniques are utilised to generate thermal histories from across both central West Greenland and SE Baffin Island, helping to de ne how the modern landscape has formed. Results from this work outline an onshore history dominated by uplift in the Cretaceous and exhumation throughout the Cenozoic. Basement samples from SW Greenland exhibit protracted cooling throughout the Mesozoic and Cenozoic, implying low rates of exhumation have been apparent throughout. Within the Nuussuaq Basin, centralWest Greenland, thermal histories display reheating i through the Late Cretaceous/Palaeogene and cooling to present, consistent with events outlined in the basin's stratigraphy and implying uplift of the topography is likely the result of extrusive volcanism and an isostatic response to the unroo ng of the lithosphere. Spatial trends in data and thermal histories across SE Ba n Island imply much of the landscape is shaped by rift ank uplift along its SE coastline, driving exhumation of the region throughout the Cenozoic. Collectively these results suggest the elevated topography of the NW Atlantic realm is the result of rift related uplift in the Cretaceous, magmatism and widespread exhumation throughout the Cenozoic, preserved by isostatic exure. This interpretation of the region's onshore history contributes greatly to our understanding of the NW Atlantic's geological evolution. The results highlight the role of extensional tectonism, exhumation and isostasy in shaping both margin's landscapes and helps to determine the principal characteristics of the wider extensional system and the evolution of the o shore domain. Moreover, these conclusions have a wider relevance to the evolution of passive margins across the North Atlantic, improving our understanding of how topography across other margins, such as of East Greenland, Norway and the UK, has formed.
Supervisor: Stephenson, Randell A. ; Brown, Roderick William Sponsor: Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Geology ; Ocean surface topography ; Continental margins ; North Atlantic Ocean