Geology of The North Sea

The geology of the North Sea describes the geological features such as channels, trenches, and ridges today and the geological history, plate tectonics, and geological events that created them.

The basement of the North Sea was formed in an intraplate setting during the Precambrian. Rigid blocks were overlaid with various depositions, sands and salts. These rigid blocks were transformed to a metamorphic base due to tectonic processes such as continental collisions which cause horizontal pressure, friction and distortion in the Caledonian plate cycle as well as the Variscan plate cycle. The blocks were also subjected to metamorphic evolution during the Triassic and Jurassic periods when the rock was heated up by the intrusion of hot molten rock called magma from the Earth's interior.

The Caledonian (Iapetus) plate cycle saw the formation of the Iapetus suture during the Caledonian orogeny. The Iapetus suture was a major weakness creating a volcanic fault in the central North Sea during the later Jurassic period. The Iapetus ocean was replaced with a suture line and mountain range when Laurentia, Baltica and Avalonia continents collided. This collision formed Laurussia.

The Variscan (Rheic) plate cycle resulted in the formation of Pangea when Gondwana and Laurussia collided. The elimination of the Rheic Ocean caused the formation of a massive mountain range through the border countries of the present day North Sea.

Triassic and Jurassic volcanic rifting and graben fault systems created highs and lows in the North Sea area. This was followed by late Mesozoic and Cenozoic subsidence creating the intracratonic sedimentary basin of the North Sea. This era experienced higher sea levels because of sea floor spreading, cooler lithosphere temperatures. Plate tectonics and continental orogenies combined to create the continents and the North Sea as we know them today. The final events affecting the North Sea coastline features and submarine topography occurred in the Cenozoic era.

Read more about Geology Of The North Sea:  Tectonic Structure, Precambrian, Finnmarkian, Athollian, Caledonian Orogenies, Acadian Orogeny, Variscan Orogeny, Permo-Triassic Rifting and Thermal Subsidence, Jurassic, Middle Jurassic Domal Uplift, Cretaceous Period Sea Floor Spreading, Cenozoic Era Intracratonic Basin Formation, Maps, See Also, Footnotes, External Sources

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