The Davis Strait crust - a transform margin between two oceanic basins

Karsten.Gohl [ at ]


The Davis Strait is located between Canada and Greenland and connects the Labrador Sea and the Baffin Bay basins. Both basins formed in Cretaceous to Eocene time and were connected by a transform fault system in the Davis Strait. Whether the crust in the central Davis Strait is oceanic or continental has been disputed. This information is needed to understand the evolution of this transform margin during the separation of the North American plate and Greenland. We here present a 315-km-long east–west-oriented profile that crosses the Davis Strait and two major transform fault systems—the Ungava Fault Complex and the Hudson Fracture Zone. By forward modelling of data from 12 ocean bottom seismographs, we develop a P-wave velocity model.We compare thismodel with a density model from ship-borne gravity data. Seismic reflection and magnetic anomaly data support and complement the interpretation. Most of the crust is covered by basalt flows that indicate extensive volcanism in the Davis Strait. While the upper crust is uniform, the middle and lower crust are characterized by higher P-wave velocities and densities at the location of the Ungava Fault Complex. Here, P-wave velocities of the middle crust are 6.6 km s−1 and of the lower crust are 7.1 km s−1 compared to 6.3 and 6.8 km s−1 outside this area; densities are 2850 and 3050 kg m−3 compared to 2800 and 2900 kg m−3. We here interpret a 45-km-long section as stretched and intruded crust or as new igneous crust that correlates with oceanic crust in the southern Davis Strait. A high-velocity lower crust (6.9–7.3 km s−1) indicates a high content of mafic material. This mantle-derived material gradually intruded the lower crust of the adjacent continental crust and can be related to the Iceland mantle plume. With plate kinematic modelling, we can demonstrate the importance of two transform fault systems in the Davis Strait: the Ungava Fault Complex with transpression and the Hudson Fracture Zone with pure strike-slip motion. We show that with recent poles of rotation, most of the relative motion between the North American plate and Greenland took place along the Hudson Fracture Zone.

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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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DOI 10.1093/gji/ggs126

Cite as
Suckro, S. , Gohl, K. , Funck, T. , Heyde, I. , Schreckenberger, B. , Gerlings, J. and Damm, V. (2013): The Davis Strait crust - a transform margin between two oceanic basins , Geophysical Journal International, 193 , pp. 78-97 . doi: 10.1093/gji/ggs126


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