The West Spitsbergen Fold Belt: The result of Late Cretaceous-Palaeocene Greenland-Svalbard convergence?



The West Spitsbergen Fold Belt, together with the Eurekan structures of northern Greenland and Ellesmere Island, are suggested to be the result of Late Cretaceous-Palaeocene intracontinental compressional tectonics. The Late Palaeozoic –Mesozoic rocks of western Spitsbergen are characterized by near-foreland deformation with ramp-flat, top-to-the east thrust trajectories, whereas structurally higher nappes involving Caledonian complexes are typified by more listric thrusts and mylonite zones. A minimum of 40 km of shortening is estimated for the northern part of the West Spitsbergen Fold Belt. The axial trends in the West Spitsbergen and the North Greenland Eurekan fold belts parallel the principal fault zones which accommodated the separation of Greenland and Svalbard after Chron 25/24. In northern Greenland, north directed Eurekan thrusts associated with mylonites and cleavage formation represent at least 10 km of shortening. Between 50 and 100 km of shortening is estimated for the markedly arcuate Eurekan Fold Belt of Ellesmere Island, but the principal tectonic transport is eastwards. Kinematic reconstructions suggest that Svalbard was linked to North America before the opening of the Eurasian Basin and Norwegian — Greenland Sea. In the Late Cretaceous — Palaeocene interval, the relative motion between Greenland and North America was convergent across the Greenland — Svalbard margin, giving rise to the West Spitsbergen Fold Belt and the Eurekan structures of North Greenland.