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Structure of the Jan Mayen microcontinent and implications for its evolution

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An extensive seismic survey using ocean-bottom seismographs (OBS) was performed in the area across the Jan Mayen Basin, North Atlantic, from the Jan Mayen Ridge to the Iceland Plateau. The Jan Mayen Ridge and surrounding area are considered to be a fragment of a continent which was separated from Greenland just prior to magnetic anomaly 6. This study presents the crustal structure of the Jan Mayen microcontinent and the ocean/continent transition to the west of the Jan Mayen Ridge. The crustal structures from the centre of the Jan Mayen Ridge to the Jan Mayen Basin are characterized by a deep sedimentary basin, a thin basaltic layer within the sedimentary section and extreme thinning of the continental crust towards the Iceland Plateau. The OBS data indicate that a continental upper crust (V p=5.8-6.1 km s-1) and lower crust (V p=6.7-6.8 km s-1) underlie the deep sedimentary basin. The thickness of the continental lower crust varies significantly from 12 km beneath the Jan Mayen Ridge to almost zero thickness beneath the northwestern part of the Jan Mayen Basin. An ocean/continent transition zone is found at the western edge of the Jan Mayen Basin. Within the 10 km wide transition zone, crustal velocities increase towards the Iceland Plateau, and approach the velocities of the oceanic crust obtained at the Iceland Plateau, that is 3.8-5.1 km s-1 (oceanic layer 2A), 5.9-6.5 km s-1 (oceanic layer 2B) and 6.8-7.3 km s-1 (oceanic layer 3). The crustal model indicates very thin oceanic crust (5 km) immediately oceanwards of the ocean/continent transition zone. Beneath the Iceland Plateau, the oceanic crust is thicker (9 km) than the typical thickness of normal oceanic crust. This might imply that the oceanic crust at the Iceland Plateau has been generated by asthenospheric material slightly hotter than normal. From the crustal structure obtained by the present study, it is proposed that the western part of the Jan Mayen Ridge may be referred to as a non-volcanic continental margin, generated by a long duration of rifting. Even if the asthenospheric material upwelling along the margin were hotter than normal, only small amounts of magmatic intrusions and extrusions would have been generated because of significant conductive cooling under the long duration of rifting.
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Keywords: Jan Mayen Ridge; continental margin; crustal structure; rift; seismic refraction.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Solid Earth Physics, University of Bergen, Allegt. 41, 5007 Bergen, Norway 2: National Energy Authority, Grensasvergu 9, 108, Reykjavik, Iceland 3: Laboratory for Ocean Bottom Seismology, Hokkaido University, N10W8 Kita-ku Sapporo 060, Japan

Publication date: 01 February 1998

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