Intraplate Stresses and Sedimentary Basin Evolution

  1. Raymond A. Price
  1. Sierd Cloetingh,
  2. Henk Kooi and
  3. Wim Groenewoud

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM048p0001

Origin and Evolution of Sedimentary Basins and Their Energy and Mineral Resources

Origin and Evolution of Sedimentary Basins and Their Energy and Mineral Resources

How to Cite

Cloetingh, S., Kooi, H. and Groenewoud, W. (1989) Intraplate Stresses and Sedimentary Basin Evolution, in Origin and Evolution of Sedimentary Basins and Their Energy and Mineral Resources (ed R. A. Price), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM048p0001

Author Information

  1. Vening Meinesz Laboratory, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1989

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875904528

Online ISBN: 9781118666654



  • Sedimentary basins—Congresses;
  • Mines and mineral resources—Congresses;
  • Power resources—Congresses


Fluctuations in stress levels in the lithosphere can play an important role in basin stratigraphy and may provide a tectonic explanation for Vail's third order cycles in apparent sea levels. The gross onlap/offlap stratigraphic architecture of rifted basins can be described by models with changing horizontal stress fields. We demonstrate the effect of intraplate stress on vertical motions of the lithosphere for a depth-dependent rheology of the lithosphere with brittle fracture in its upper part and ductile flow in its lower part. Comparison of the outcome of the modeling with previous estimates by Cloetingh et al. [1985] of stress-induced subsidence and uplift based on an elastic plate model for the mechanical properties of the lithosphere demonstrates a considerable magnification of the induced vertical motions. These findings have important consequences for the stress levels required to explain the observed onlaps and offlaps at sedimentary basins. Similarly, they bear on our assessment of the relative importance of lithospheric dynamics versus glacio-eustasy as the controlling factor underlying sea-level cycles during periods with a non-icefree world. Modeling of the stratigraphy of the U.S. Atlantic margin demonstrates that the inferred transience in the horizontal stress field is qualitatively consistent with expectations based on what is known about plate kinematics during the same time period. The classic Mid-Oligocene unconformity can be explained by a compressional tectonic phase. The superposition of the stress effect associated with a major plate reorganization and a glacio-eustatic event might explain the exceptional magnitude of the Mid-Oligocene lowering of apparent sea level. Out-of-phase intrabasinal cycles such as relative uplift at the flanks and increased subsidence at the basin center, as observed for the Gulf de Lions margin, are predictable by the models. The large variations in estimates of magnitudes of short-term changes in relative sea level between various basins around the world are in agreement with predictions of the tectonic model.