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      Evolution of magma-poor continental margins from rifting to seafloor spreading

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      Nature
      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          The rifting of continents involves faulting (tectonism) and magmatism, which reflect the strain-rate and temperature dependent processes of solid-state deformation and decompression melting within the Earth. Most models of this rifting have treated tectonism and magmatism separately, and few numerical simulations have attempted to include continental break-up and melting, let alone describe how continental rifting evolves into seafloor spreading. Models of this evolution conventionally juxtapose continental and oceanic crust. Here we present observations that support the existence of a zone of exhumed continental mantle, several tens of kilometres wide, between oceanic and continental crust on continental margins where magma-poor rifting has taken place. We present geophysical and geological observations from the west Iberia margin, and geological mapping of margins of the former Tethys ocean now exposed in the Alps. We use these complementary findings to propose a conceptual model that focuses on the final stage of continental extension and break-up, and the creation of a zone of exhumed continental mantle that evolves oceanward into seafloor spreading. We conclude that the evolving stress and thermal fields are constrained by a rising and narrowing ridge of asthenospheric mantle, and that magmatism and rates of extension systematically increase oceanward.

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          Most cited references21

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          The Volume and Composition of Melt Generated by Extension of the Lithosphere

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            Deep structure of the ocean-continent transition in the southern Iberia Abyssal Plain from seismic refraction profiles: The IAM-9 transect at 40°20′N

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              How continents break up: Insights from Papua New Guinea

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                September 2001
                September 2001
                : 413
                : 6852
                : 150-154
                Article
                10.1038/35093085
                11557977
                cae56c7b-2afd-4ea0-a321-86cfce3b7425
                © 2001

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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