Geophysical investigations of the area between the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Barents Sea: From water to the lithosphere-asthenosphere system

Grad, M., Mjelde, R., Krysiński, L., Czuba, W., Libak, A., Guterch, A., IPY Project Group

Polar Science

9 (1), 2015, 168-183, 10.1016/j.polar.2014.11.001

As a part of the large international panel “IPY Plate Tectonics and Polar Gateways” within the “4th International Polar Year” framework, extensive geophysical studies were performed in the area of southern Svalbard, between the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Barents Sea. Seismic investigations were performed along three refraction and wide-angle reflection seismic lines. Integrated with gravity data the seismic data were used to determine the structure of the oceanic crust, the transition between continent and ocean (COT), and the continental structures down to the lithosphere-asthenosphere system (LAB). We demonstrate how modeling of multiple water waves can be used to determine the sound velocity in oceanic water along a seismic refraction profile. Our 2D seismic and density models documents 4–9 km thick oceanic crust formed at the Knipovich Ridge, a distinct and narrow continent-ocean transition (COT), the Caledonian suture zone between Laurentia and Barentsia, and 30–35 km thick continental crust beneath the Barents Sea. The COT west of southern Spitsbergen expresses significant excess density (more than 0.1 g/cm3 in average), which is characteristic for mafic/ultramafic and high-grade metamorphic rocks. The results of the gravity modeling show relatively weak correlation of the density with seismic velocity in the upper mantle, which suggests that the horizontal differences between oceanic and continental mantle are dominated by mineralogical changes, although a thermal effect is also present. The seismic velocity change with depth suggests lherzolite composition of the uppermost oceanic mantle, and dunite composition beneath the continental crust.