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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Professor Richard Hobbs

Yang, Pei, Welford, J. Kim, Peace, Alexander L. & Hobbs, Richard (2020). Investigating the Goban Spur rifted continental margin, offshore Ireland, through integration of new seismic reflection and potential field data. Tectonophysics 777: 228364.

Author(s) from Durham


The Goban Spur, offshore Ireland, is a magma-poor rifted continental margin conjugate to the well-studied Newfoundland margin, offshore Canada. Published studies demonstrated that a 70-km-wide zone of exhumed serpentinized mantle lies between oceanic crust and stretched continental crust at the seaward limit of Goban Spur. However, the along-strike extent of this serpentinized zone has, until now, been unknown due to insufficient data coverage. The crustal architecture of the margin is complicated due to its multi-staged tectonic history. Here, six newly acquired multi-channel seismic reflection lines are processed and interpreted, along with vintage seismic profiles, to characterize its structure and evolution. These seismic profiles reveal significant along-strike structural variations along the Goban Spur margin, and allow us to delimit five distinct crustal zones related to different rifting stages and their regional extents. The geometries of each crustal domain are variable along the margin strike, probably suggestive of different extension rates during the evolution of the margin or inherited variations in crustal composition and rheology. The transitional zone between oceanic crust and stretched continental crust consists of both shallow peridotite ridges and deeper exhumed serpentinized mantle, much like the conjugate Iberian and Newfoundland margins. Above the top basement in the exhumed domain, the syn-exhumed sediments show strikingly weak reflectivity, rarely seen at other magma-poor margins. Magmatic events occur coincident with each rifting stage, and the volume of magmatic accretions increases from NW to SE, more than previously interpreted. Plate reconstruction of the Goban Spur and its possible conjugate – the Flemish Cap, shows asymmetry in the crustal architectures, likely due to rift evolution involving more 3-D complexity than can be explained by simple 2-D extensional kinematics.