Publication Details

Shephard, G. E., Flament, N., Williams, S., Seton, M., Gurnis, M. & Muller, R. D. (2014). Circum-Arctic mantle structure and long-wavelength topography since the Jurassic. Journal of Geophysical Research, 119 (10), 7889-7908.


The circum-Arctic is one of the most tectonically complex regions of the world, shaped by a history of ocean basin opening and closure since the Early Jurassic. The region is characterized by contemporaneous large-scale Cenozoic exhumation extending from Alaska to the Atlantic, but its driving force is unknown. We show that the mantle flow associated with subducted slabs of the South Anuyi, Mongol-Okhotsk, and Panthalassa oceans have imparted long-wavelength deflection on overriding plates. We identify the Jurassic-Cretaceous South Anuyi slab under present-day Greenland in seismic tomography and numerical mantle flow models. Under North America, we propose the "Farallon" slab results from Andean-style ocean-continent convergence around ~30°N and from a combination of ocean-continent and intraoceanic subduction north of 50°N. We compute circum-Arctic dynamic topography through time from subduction-driven convection models and find that slabs have imparted on average <1-16 m/Myr of dynamic subsidence across the region from at least 170 Ma to ~50 Ma. With the exception of Siberia, the main phase of circum-Arctic dynamic subsidence has been followed either by slowed subsidence or by uplift of <1-6 m/Myr on average to present day. Comparing these results to geological inferences suggest that subduction-driven dynamic topography can account for rapid Middle to Late Jurassic subsidence in the Slave Craton and North Slope (respectively, <15 and 21 m/Myr, between 170 and 130 Ma) and for dynamic subsidence (<7 m/Myr, ~170-50 Ma) followed by dynamic uplift (<6 m/Myr since 50 Ma) of the Barents Sea region. Combining detailed kinematic reconstructions with geodynamic modeling and key geological observations constitutes a powerful tool to investigate the origin of vertical motion in remote regions.



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