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Patterns of Cenozoic sediment flux from western Scandinavia: discussion

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Abstract

The recent paper by Gołędowski et al. (2012) is a contribution to the ongoing debate regarding the possible processes involved in the geological evolution of the North Sea basin and adjacent hinterlands during the Cenozoic. Their major conclusions state (1) that the prominent seismic feature called the ‘mid-Miocene unconformity’ (MMU) is a diachroneous surface in the North Sea basin and forms a regional hiatus and (2) that sediment flux from western Scandinavia was primarily controlled by climate and vegetation cover from the Late Eocene and onwards. We believe, however, that regarding the eastern North Sea basin, which was the depocentre for sediments sourced from southwestern Scandinavia, these conclusions are not supported by the geological record. The so-called ‘mid-Miocene unconformity’ is not a regional hiatus in the Danish and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea basin, but represents a distinct shift from prograding delta/slope systems to deposition of deeper marine hemipelagic mud, and thus provides a distinct seismic marker horizon. However, detailed studies show that there is a continuous sedimentation dominated by glacony-rich mud where a ca. 3 m thick mudlayer spans several millions years and thus are below seismic resolution. Consequently, seismic stratigraphy is not applicable for this condensed section. (1) Warm climate and dense vegetation cover in southern Scandinavia during the mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum were not able to hinder the progradation of a major siliciclastic wedge from Scandinavia into the North Sea basin. (2) The distinct temperature decrease in the Serravallian does not correlate with the aforementioned progradation, but on the contrary, correlate with the culmination of a major flooding event and deposition of a condensed succession of marine glaucony-rich clay.

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