Development of sedimentary basins: differential stretching, phase transitions, shear heating and tectonic pressure
E.H. Hartz, S. Medvedev and D.W. Schmid
Journal name: Basin Research
Issue: Vol 29, No 5, October 2017 pp. 591 - 604
Info: Article, PDF ( 3.72Mb )
Classical models of lithosphere thinning predict deep synrift basins covered by wider and thinner post-rift deposits. However, synextensional uplift and/or erosion of the crust are widely documented in nature (e.g. the Base Cretaceous unconformity of the NE Atlantic), and generally the post-rift deposits dominate basins fills. Accordingly, several basin models focus on this discrepancy between observations and the classical approach. These models either involve differential thinning, where the mantle thins more than the crust thereby increasing average temperature of the lithosphere, or focus on the effect of metamorphic reactions, showing that such reactions decrease the density of lithospheric rocks. Both approaches result in less synrift subsidence and increased postrift subsidence. The synextensional uplift in these two approaches happens only for special cases, that is for a case of initially thin crust, specific mineral assemblage of the lithospheric mantle or extensive differential thinning of the lithosphere. Here, we analyse the effects of shear heating and tectonic underpressure on the evolution of sedimentary basins. In simple 1D models, we test the implications of various mechanisms in regard to uplift, subsidence, density variations and thermal history. Our numerical experiments show that tectonic underpressure during lithospheric thinning combined with pressure-dependent density is a widely applicable mechanism for synextensional uplift. Mineral phase transitions in the subcrustal lithosphere amplify the effect of underpressure and may result in more than 1 km of synextensional erosion. Additional heat from shear heating, especially combined with mineral phase transitions and differential thinning of the lithosphere, greatly decreases the amount of synrift deposits.