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Seismic‐stratigraphic constraints on the age of the Faroe Islands Basalt Group, Faroe–Shetland region, Northeast Atlantic OceanNormal access

Authors: J. Ólavsdóttir, M.S. Stoker, L.O. Boldreel, M.S. Andersen and O.R. Eidesgaard
Issue: Vol 31, No 5, October 2019 pp. 841 - 865
DOI: 10.1111/bre.12348
Language: English
Info: Article, PDF ( 7.77Mb )

Lower Palaeogene extrusive igneous rocks of the Faroe Islands Basalt Group (FIBG) dominate the Faroese continental margin, with flood basalts created at the time of breakup and separation from East Greenland extending eastwards into the Faroe‐ Shetland Basin. This volcanic succession was emplaced in connection with the opening of the NE Atlantic; however, consensus on the age and duration of volcanism remains lacking. On the Faroe Islands, the FIBG comprises four main basaltic formations (the pre‐breakup Lopra and Beinisvørð formations, and the syn‐breakup Malinstindur and Enni formations) locally separated by thin intrabasaltic sedimentary and/or volcaniclastic units. Offshore, the distribution of these formations remains ambiguous. We examine the stratigraphic framework of these rocks on the Faroese continental margin combining onshore (published) outcrop information with offshore seismic‐reflection and well data. Our results indicate that on seismic‐reflection profiles, the FIBG can be informally divided into lower and upper seismic‐stratigraphic packages separated by the strongly reflective A‐horizon. The Lower FIBG comprises the Lopra and Beinisvørð formations; the upper FIBG includes the Malinstindur and Enni formations. The strongly reflecting A‐horizon is a consequence of the contrast in properties of the overlying Malinstindur and underlying Beinisvørð formations. Onshore, the A‐horizon is an erosional surface, locally cutting down into the Beinisvørð Formation; offshore, we have correlated the A‐horizon with the Flett unconformity, a highly incised, subaerial unconformity, within the juxtaposed and interbedded sedimentary fill of the Faroe‐Shetland Basin. We refer to this key regional boundary as the A‐horizon/Flett unconformity. The formation of this unconformity represents the transition from the pre‐breakup to the syn‐breakup phase of ocean margin development in the Faroe–Shetland region. We examine the wider implications of this correlation considering existing stratigraphic models for the FIBG, discussing potential sources of uncertainty in the correlation of the lower Palaeogene succession across the Faroe–Shetland region, and implications for the age and duration of the volcanism.

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