Constraining the role of magma before, during and after the break-up of continents using seismic reflection data

Friday, 19 December 2014: 11:35 AM
Craig Magee1, Christopher A-L Jackson1, Nick Schofield2 and Simon P Holford3, (1)Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom, (2)University of Aberdeen, Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology, Aberdeen, United Kingdom, (3)University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
The ability to visualize networks of igneous intrusions in 3D using seismic reflection data has revolutionized our understanding of how magma migrates and is emplaced during continental breakup. Numerous seismic-based studies have shown that: (i) sub-horizontal or saucer-shaped sill intrusions represent a major component of magmatic systems within sedimentary basins; (ii) these sills may be interconnected to form laterally extensive (>100’s km2) sill-complexes; (iii) magma flow indicators can be mapped within the sills to reconstruct magma migration routes and source positions; (iv) space-making mechanisms (e.g., forced folds) can be identified, which provide constraints on intrusive style (e.g., brittle or non-brittle); and (v) cross-cutting and seismic-stratigraphic relationships between the sills and host rock can be used to constrain the age of igneous activity. We use a series of seismic data, primarily from the Rockall Basin, NE Atlantic and offshore Australia, to demonstrate how the observations described above can be synthesized to reconstruct the evolution of ancient magmatic systems located along continental volcanic rifted margins. Our results demonstrate that the architecture of such intrusive networks is significantly influenced by the pre-existing structure and lithology of the host rock. Importantly, relatively dating the intrusive and extrusive components of magmatic systems suggests igneous activity may occur more intermittently and over longer time periods than previously thought, potentially spanning entire break-up histories. Overall, seismic reflection data provide important insights into: (i) the role of magma before, during and after continental break-up; and (ii) the influence of crystallised intrusion networks on subsequent basin evolution and fluid flow processes.