From Caledonian collapse to North Sea Rift: The extended history of a metamorphic core complex
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonTectonics. 2020, 39(10):e2020TC006178 10.1029/2020TC006178
Extensional systems evolve through different stages due to changes in the rheological state of the lithosphere. It is crucial to distinguish ductile structures formed before and during rifting, as both cases have important but contrasting bearings on the structural evolution. To address this issue, we present the illustrative ductile‐to‐brittle structural history of a metamorphic core complex (MCC) onshore and offshore western Norway. Combining geological field mapping with newly acquired 3‐D seismic reflection data, we correlate two distinct onshore basement units (BU1 and BU2) to corresponding offshore basement seismic facies (SF1 and SF2). Our interpretation reveals two 40 km wide domes (one onshore and one offshore), which both show characteristic kilometer‐scale, westward plunging upright folds. The gneiss domes fill antiformal culminations in the footwall of a >100 km long, shallowly west dipping, extensional detachment. Overlying Caledonian nappes and Devonian supradetachment basins occupy saddles of the hyperbolic detachment surface. Devonian collapse of the Caledonian orogen formed dome and detachment geometries. During North Sea rifting, brittle reactivation of the MCC resulted in complex fault patterns deviating from N‐S strike dominant at the eastern margin of the rift. Around 61°N, only minor N‐S faults (<100 m throw) cut through the core of the MCC. Major rift faults (≤5 km throw), on the other hand, reactivated the detachment and follow the steep flanks of the MCC. This highlights that inherited ductile structures can locally alter the orientation of brittle faults formed during rifting.