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S.B. Nielsen

Implications for anomalous mantle pressure and dynamic topography from lithospheric stress patterns in the North Atlantic Realm

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With convergent plate boundaries at some distance, the sources of the lithospheric stress field of the North Atlantic Realm are mainly mantle tractions at the base of the lithosphere, lithospheric density structure and topography. Given this, we estimate horizontal deviatoric stresses using a well-established thin sheet model in a global finite element representation. We adjust the lithospheric thickness and the sub-lithospheric pressure iteratively, comparing modelled in plane stress with the observations of the World Stress Map. We find that an anomalous mantle pressure associated with the Iceland and Azores melt anomalies, as well as topography are able to explain the general pattern of the principle horizontal stress directions. The Iceland melt anomaly overprints the classic ridge push perpendicular to the Mid Atlantic ridge and affects the conjugate passive margins in East Greenland more than in western Scandinavia. The dynamic support of topography shows a distinct maximum of c. 1000 m in Iceland and amounts <150 m along the coast of south-western Norway and 250–350 m along the coast of East Greenland. Considering that large areas of the North Atlantic Realm have been estimated to be sub-aerial during the time of break-up, two components of dynamic topography seem to have affected the area: a short-lived, which affected a wider area along the rift system and quickly dissipated after break-up, and a more durable in the close vicinity of Iceland. This is consistent with the appearance of a buoyancy anomaly at the base of the North Atlantic lithosphere at or slightly before continental breakup, relatively fast dissipation of the fringes of this, and continued melt generation below Iceland.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geodynamics
Pages (from-to)53-69
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

    Research areas

  • Geodynamics, Lithospheric stress field, Thermo-isostatic modelling, Gravitational stress, Geopotential Energy, North Atlantic

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