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The development of the continental margin of eastern North America-conjugate continental margin to West Africa

January 1, 1988

The continental margin of eastern North America was initiated when West Africa and North America were rifted apart in Triassic-Early Jurassic time. Cooling of the crust and its thinning by rifting and extension caused subsidence. Variation in amounts of subsidence led to formation of five basins. These are listed from south to north. (1) The Blake Plateau Basin, the southernmost, is the widest basin and the one in which the rift-stage basement took longest to form. Carbonate platform deposition was active and persisted until the end of Early Cretaceous. In Late Cretaceous, deposition slowed while subsidence persisted, so a deep water platform was formed. Since the Paleocene the region has undergone erosion. (2) The Carolina Trough is narrow and has relatively thin basement, on the basis of gravity modeling. The two basins with thin basement, the Carolina Trough and Scotian Basin, also show many salt diapirs indicating considerable deposition of salt during their early evolution. In the Carolina Trough, subsidence of a large block of strata above the flowing salt has resulted in a major, active normal fault on the landward side of the basin. (3) The Baltimore Canyon Trough has an extremely thick sedimentary section; synrift and postrift sediments exceed 18 km in thickness. A Jurassic reef is well developed on the basin's seaward side, but post-Jurassic deposition was mainly non-carbonate. In general the conversion from carbonate to terrigenous deposition, characteristics of North American Basins, occurred progressively earlier toward the north. (4) The Georges Bank Basin has a complicated deep structure of sub-basins filled with thick synrift deposits. This may have resulted from some shearing that occurred at this offset of the continental margin. Postrift sediments apparently are thin compared to other basins—only about 8 km. (5) The Scotian Basin, off Canada, contains Jurassic carbonate rocks, sandstone, shale and coal covered by deltaic deposits and Upper Cretaceous deeper water chalk and shale.

Publication Year 1988
Title The development of the continental margin of eastern North America-conjugate continental margin to West Africa
DOI 10.1016/0899-5362(88)90080-2
Authors William P. Dillon, J. S. Schlee, Kim D. Klitgord
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of African Earth Sciences
Index ID 70013343
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse