Why is Svalbard an island? Evidence for two-stage uplift, magmatic underplating, and mantle thermal anomalies

Document Type


Publication Date



Svalbard is an anomalous, subaerial part of the Barents Shelf, Northeast Atlantic Ocean. In this study, we performed both, one- and two-dimensional subsidence analyses based on basin structure, water depth, and thermochronology, to quantify and date the phases of uplift affecting Svalbard during the Cenozoic. Svalbard has experienced two phases of uplift, from >36 to ∼10 Ma, and since ∼10 Ma, similar in timing to uplift phases identified in Greenland, Scandinavia, and the Barents Shelf. Total uplift across much of the Central Tertiary Basin of Svalbard is >1.5 km and exceeds 2.5 km in parts of the West Spitsbergen Foldbelt (WSFB). Uplift from >36 to ∼10 Ma accounts for the greatest part of the vertical motion and like the younger phase reduces in magnitude towards the east. Flexural rigidity of the lithosphere is estimated to be low (Te ≈ 5 km), so that post-36 Ma erosion of the WSFB contributes little to the uplift, whose permanent nature and proximity to the synchronous Yermak Plateau favors a link to regional magmatic underplating. Plume dynamic support and flexural unloading along the western transform plate margin can be ruled out as influences on vertical motions. Since ∼10 Ma renewed uplift, generating the modern topography may be linked to thermal erosion of the mantle lithosphere under Svalbard. We suggest that a likely cause of much of the surface uplift is the northward propagation of the Knipovich Ridge to establish continuous seafloor spreading through the Fram Strait after ∼10 Ma. © 2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)


First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.