Uplift and strength evolution of passive margins inferred from 2D conductive modelling

Abstract : Post-breakup vertical motions of passive margins are seen here as a result of the post-rift 2-D thermal evolution. A 2-D finite element numerical model is performed to evaluate both the vertical and horizontal conduction that drive the thermal evolution of continental passive margins, from breakup to post-breakup states. Initial temperature configurations corresponding to non-volcanic and volcanic margins are tested, and lead to different thermal evolution of the lithosphere. For both margins, a thermal thickening is observed in the stretched lithosphere, whereas the unstretched lithosphere undergoes first (0­80 Ma) a thermal thinning and secondly (after 80 Ma) a thermal thickening. In comparison with non-volcanic margins, volcanic margins show a slower thermal thickening and a greater thermal thinning in stretched and unstretched lithosphere, respectively. The variations with time of lithosphere thickness are then translated into isostatic vertical movements and reveal 'seaward' thermal induced subsidence and 'landward' thermal induced uplift. The estimated uplift reaches up to 250 m in volcanic margins and 120 m in non-volcanic margins. The modelled timing and amount of uplift in both margins are consistent with present-day topography of volcanic passive margins that stand two to three times higher than non-volcanic margins. Using these thermal models, we finally show that the 2-D strength of the margins drastically evolves with time from a seeward dominant strength (0­80 Ma) toward a landward dominant strength (time larger than 80 Ma). These lateral strength evolution could have strong effect on the flexural response of the margin through time.
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M. Leroy, Frédéric Gueydan, Olivier Dauteuil. Uplift and strength evolution of passive margins inferred from 2D conductive modelling. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2008, 172 (1), pp.464-476. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-246X.2007.03566.x⟩. ⟨insu-00221419⟩

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