Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-ndmmz Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-13T01:25:17.189Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Pooled subsidence records from numerous wells reveal variations in pre-break-up rifting along the proximal domains of the Iberia–Newfoundland continental margins

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 November 2018

Cameron Spooner*
Geology and Petroleum Geology, School of Geosciences, King’s College, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3UE, UK
Randell Stephenson
Geology and Petroleum Geology, School of Geosciences, King’s College, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3UE, UK
Robert W.H. Butler
Geology and Petroleum Geology, School of Geosciences, King’s College, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3UE, UK
Author for correspondence: Cameron Spooner, Email:


The Iberia–Newfoundland continental margin is one of the most-studied conjugate margins in the world. However, many unknowns remain regarding the nature of rifting preceding its break-up. We analyse a large dataset of tectonic subsidence curves, created from publicly available well data, to show spatial and temporal trends of rifting in the proximal domains of the margin. We develop a novel methodology of bulk averaging tectonic subsidence curves that can be applied on any conjugate margin with a similar spread of well data. The method does not rely on the existence of conjugate, deep seismic profiles and, specifically, attempts to forego the risk of quantitative bias derived from localized anomalies and uncertain stratigraphic dating and correlation. Results for the Iberia–Newfoundland margin show that active rift-driven tectonic subsidence occurred in the Central segment of the conjugate margin from c. 227 Ma (early Norian) to c. 152.1 Ma (early Tithonian), in the southern segment from c. 208.5 Ma (early Rhaetian) to c. 152.1 Ma (early Tithonian) and in the northern segment from c. 201.3 Ma (early Hettangian) to c. 132.9 Ma (early Hauterivian). This indicates that rifting in the stretching phase of the proximal domain of the Iberia–Newfoundland margin does not mirror hyperextended domain rifting trends (south to north) that ultimately led to break-up. The insights into broad-scale three-dimensional spatial and temporal trends, produced using the novel methodology presented in this paper, provide added value for interpretation of the development of passive margins, and new constraints for modelling of the formation of conjugate margins.

Original Article
© Cambridge University Press 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Allen, P and Allen, J (2013) Basin Analysis: Principles and Application to Petroleum Play Assessment. 3rd ed. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
Alves, T and Cunha, TA (2018) A phase of transient subsidence, sediment bypass and deposition of regressive–transgressive cycles during the breakup of Iberia and Newfoundland. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 484, 168–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alves, T, Gawthorpe, R, Hunt, D and Monteiro, J (2002) Jurassic tectono-sedimentary evolution of the Northern Lusitanian Basin (offshore Portugal). Marine and Petroleum Geology 19, 727–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alves, T, Gawthorpe, R, Hunt, D and Monteiro, J (2003) Post-Jurassic tectono-sedimentary evolution of the Northern Lusitanian Basin (Western Iberian margin). Basin Research 15, 227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alves, T, Moita, C, Cunha, T, Ullnaess, M, Myklebust, R, Monteiro, J and Manuppella, G (2009) Diachronous evolution of Late Jurassic-Cretaceous continental rifting in the northeast Atlantic (west Iberian margin). Tectonics 28(4), doi: 10.1029/2008TC002337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alves, T, Moita, C, Sandnes, F, Cunha, T, Monteiro, J and Pinheiro, L (2006) Mesozoic–Cenozoic evolution of North Atlantic continental-slope basins: the Peniche basin, western Iberian margin. AAPG Bulletin 90, 3160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barton, P and Wood, R (1984) Tectonic evolution of the North Sea Basin: crustal stretching and subsidence. Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 79, 9871022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Biari, Y, Klingelhoefer, F, Sahabi, M, Funck, T, Benabdellouahed, M, Schnabel, M, Reichert, C, Gutscher, M, Bronner, A and Austin, J (2017) Opening of the central Atlantic ocean: implications for geometric rifting and asymmetric initial seafloor spreading after continental breakup. Tectonics 36, 1129–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bronner, A, Sauter, D, Manatschal, G, Péron-Pinvidic, G and Munschy, M (2011) Magmatic breakup as an explanation for magnetic anomalies at magma-poor rifted margins. Nature Geoscience 4, 549–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brune, S, Heine, C, Clift, P and Pérez-Gussinyé, M (2017) Rifted margin architecture and crustal rheology: reviewing Iberia-Newfoundland, Central South Atlantic, and South China Sea. Marine and Petroleum Geology 79, 257–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brune, S, Williams, S, Butterworth, N and Müller, R (2016) Abrupt plate accelerations shape rifted continental margins. Nature 536, 201–4.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (2017) Schedule of wells | CNLOPB. [online] Available at: (accessed 7 October 2018).Google Scholar
Cardozo, N (2016) Backstrip v4.3. Stavanger: Nestor Cardozo.Google Scholar
Carmichael, R (1982) CRC Handbook of Physical Properties of Rocks. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.Google Scholar
Cohen, KM, Finney, SM, Gibbard, PL, Fan, J-X (2013) The ICS international chronostratigraphic chart. Episodes 36, 199204.Google Scholar
DeSilva, NR (1999) Sedimentary basins and petroleum systems offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. In Petroleum Geology of Northwest Europe: Proceedings of the 5th Conference (eds Fleet, AJ and Boldy, SAR) pp. 501–15. London: Geological Society.Google Scholar
Doré, T and Lundin, E (2015) Hyperextended continental margins—knowns and unknowns. Geology 43, 95–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Driscoll, N and Hogg, J (1995) Stratigraphic response to basin formation: Jeanne d’Arc Basin, offshore Newfoundland. In: Hydrocarbon Habitat in Rift Basins (ed. Lambiase, JJ), pp. 145–63. Geological Society, Special Publication no. 80.Google Scholar
Eddy, M, Jagoutz, O and Ibañez-Mejia, M (2017) Timing of initial seafloor spreading in the Newfoundland-Iberia rift. Geology 45, 527–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fensome, R, Crux, J, Gard, G, MacRae, A, Williams, G, Thomas, F, Fiorini, F and Wach, G (2008) The last 100 million years on the Scotian Margin, offshore eastern Canada: an event-stratigraphic scheme emphasizing biostratigraphic data. Atlantic Geology 44, 93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hansen, M, Scheck-Wenderoth, M, Hübscher, C, Lykke-Andersen, H, Dehghani, A, Hell, B and Gajewski, D (2007) Basin evolution of the northern part of the Northeast German Basin — insights from a 3D structural model. Tectonophysics 437, 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hantschel, T and Kauerauf, A (2009) Fundamentals of Basin and Petroleum Systems Modeling. 1st ed. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
Hiscott, R and Wilson, R (1990) Comparative stratigraphy and subsidence history of Mesozoic rift basins of North Atlantic (1). AAPG Bulletin, 74, 6076.Google Scholar
Keen, C and de Voogd, B (1988) The continent-ocean boundary at the rifted margin off eastern Canada: new results from deep seismic reflection studies. Tectonics 7, 107–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lavier, L and Manatschal, G (2006) A mechanism to thin the continental lithosphere at magma-poor margins. Nature 440, 324–8.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lister, G, Etheridge, M and Symonds, P (1991) Detachment models for the formation of passive continental margins. Tectonics 10, 1038–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lopez, F and Proença Cunha, P (2004) Tertiary tectono-sedimentary characterisation of the Algarve margin (SW Iberia). Boletín Geológico y Minero 115, 511–20.Google Scholar
Maldonado, A, Somoza, L and Pallarés, L (1999) The Betic orogen and the Iberian–African boundary in the Gulf of Cadiz: geological evolution (central North Atlantic). Marine Geology 155, 943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Manatschal, G, Müntener, O, Lavier, L, Minshull, T and Péron-Pinvidic, G (2007) Observations from the Alpine Tethys and Iberia–Newfoundland margins pertinent to the interpretation of continental breakup. In: Imaging, Mapping and Modelling Continental Lithosphere Extension and Breakup (eds Karner, GD, Manatschal, G and Pinheiro, LM), pp. 291324. Geological Society of London, Special Publication no. 282.Google Scholar
Matias, H, Kress, P, Terrinha, P, Mohriak, W, Menezes, P, Matias, L, Santos, F and Sandnes, F (2011) Salt tectonics in the western Gulf of Cadiz. Southwest Iberia. AAPG Bulletin 95, 1667–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McWhorter, D and Sunada, D (1977) Ground-water hydrology and hydraulics. 1st ed. Fort Collins, CO: Water Resources Publication.Google Scholar
Mohn, G, Karner, G, Manatschal, G and Johnson, C (2015) Structural and stratigraphic evolution of the Iberia–Newfoundland hyper-extended rifted margin: a quantitative modelling approach. In: Sedimentary Basins and Crustal Processes at Continental Margins: From Modern Hyper-extended Margins to Deformed Ancient Analogues (eds Gibson, GM, Roure, F and Manatschal, G), pp. 5389. Geological Society of London, Special Publication no. 413.Google Scholar
Nirrengarten, M, Manatschal, G, Tugend, J, Kusznir, N and Sauter, D (2018) Kinematic evolution of the Southern North Atlantic: implications for the formation of hyperextended rift systems. Tectonics 37, 89118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
O’Mahony, S (2017) Medicine and the McNamara fallacy. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 47, 281–7.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Peron-Pinvidic, G, Manatschal, G and Osmundsen, P (2013) Structural comparison of archetypal Atlantic rifted margins: a review of observations and concepts. Marine and Petroleum Geology 43, 2147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pimentel, N and Pena dos Reis, R (2016) Petroleum systems of the West Iberian margin: a review of the Lusitanian basin and the deep offshore Peniche basin. Journal of Petroleum Geology 39, 305–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pinheiro, L, Wilson, RCL, Reis, R, Whitmarsh, RB and Ribeiro, A (1996) The western Iberia Margin: a geophysical and geological overview. In Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program. Scientific Results (eds Whitmarsh, RB, Sawyer, DS, Klaus, A and Masson, DG DG) vol. 149, pp. 323. Texas: College Station.Google Scholar
Rasmussen, E, Lomholt, S, Andersen, C and Vejbæk, O (1998) Aspects of the structural evolution of the Lusitanian Basin in Portugal and the shelf and slope area offshore Portugal. Tectonophysics 300, 199225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sibuet, J and Tucholke, B (2012) The geodynamic province of transitional lithosphere adjacent to magma-poor continental margins. In: Conjugate Divergent Margins (eds Mohriak, WU, Danforth, A, Post, PJ, Brown, DE, Tari, GC, Nemčok, M and Sinha, ST), pp. 429–52. Geological Society of London, Special Publication no. 369.Google Scholar
Srivastava, S, Sibuet, J, Cande, S, Roest, W and Reid, I (2000) Magnetic evidence for slow seafloor spreading during the formation of the Newfoundland and Iberian margins. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 182, 6176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stapel, G, Cloetingh, S and Pronk, B (1996) Quantitative subsidence analysis of the Mesozoic evolution of the Lusitanian basin (western Iberian margin). Tectonophysics 266, 493507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steckler, M, Mountain, G, Miller, K and Christie-Blick, N (1999) Reconstruction of tertiary progradation and clinoform development on the New Jersey passive margin by 2-D backstripping. Marine Geology 154, 399420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steckler, M and Watts, A (1978) Subsidence of the Atlantic-type continental margin off New York. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 41, 113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sutra, E, Manatschal, G, Mohn, G and Unternehr, P (2013) Quantification and restoration of extensional deformation along the Western Iberia and Newfoundland rifted margins. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 14, 2575–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vissers, R and Meijer, P (2012) Mesozoic rotation of Iberia: subduction in the pyrenees? Earth-Science Reviews 110, 93110.Google Scholar
Wernicke, B (1985) Uniform-sense normal simple shear of the continental lithosphere. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 22, 108–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Xie, X and Heller, P (2006) Plate tectonics and basin subsidence history. Geological Society of America Bulletin 121, 5564.Google Scholar