The Cenozoic margins of the Norwegian-Greenland Sea offer ideal conditions for passive margin studies. A series of structural elements, first observed on these margins, led to the concept of volcanic passive margins. Questions still remain about the development of such features and the location of the boundary between oceanic and continental crust. Despite the thin sediment cover of the margins, seismic reflection data are not able to image the deeper structures due to the occurrence of igneous rocks at shallow depth.
This paper presents a 320-km long profile perpendicular to the strike of the main structural units of the Lofoten Margin in Northern Norway. A geological model is proposed, based on observations made with ocean bottom seismographs, which recorded seismic refraction data and wide angle reflections, along with a seismic reflection profile covering the same area. Ray-tracing was used to calculate a geophysical model from the shelf area into the Lofoten basin. The structures typical of a volcanic passive margin were found, showing that the Lofoten Margin was influenced by increased volcanic activity during its evolution. The ocean/continent transition is located in a 30-km wide zone landwards of the Vøring Plateau escarpment.
The whole margin is underlain by a possibly underplated, high velocity layer. Evidence for a pre-rift sediment basin landwards of the escarpment, overlain by basalt flows, was seen. These structural features, related to extensive volcanism on the Lofoten Margin, are not as distinct as further south along the Norwegian Margin. Viewed in the light of the hot-spot theory of White and McKenzie (1989) the Lofoten Margin can be interpreted as a transitional type between volcanic and non-volcanic passive margin.