3-D seismic images of an extensive igneous sill in the lower crust
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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When continents rift, magmatism can produce large volumes of melt that migrate upwards from deep below the Earth’s surface. To understand how magmatism impacts rifting, it is critical to understand how much melt is generated and how it transits the crust. Estimating melt volumes and pathways is difficult, however, particularly in the lower crust where the resolution of geophysical techniques is limited. New broadband seismic reflection data allow us to image the three-dimensional (3-D) geometry of magma crystallized in the lower crust (17.5–22 km depth) of the northern North Sea, in an area previously considered a magma-poor rift. The subhorizontal igneous sill is ∼97 km long (north-south), ∼62 km wide (east-west), and 180 ± 40 m thick. We estimate that 472 ± 161 km3 of magma was emplaced within this intrusion, suggesting that the northern North Sea contains a higher volume of igneous intrusions than previously thought. The significant areal extent of the intrusion (∼2700 km2), as well as the presence of intrusive steps, indicate that sills can facilitate widespread lateral magma transport in the lower crust.