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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Structure and emplacement mechanisms of the large sill complexes of central Isfjorden

Awarded: NOK 79,999

The aim of the proposed project is to initiate a new research project and collaboration in order to use Svalbard geology as world-class case study for studying the complex processes of magma emplacement in the Earth’s crust. The principle of magma emplacement processes seems quite straightforward: it corresponds to the forceful inflow of a viscous liquid into solid rocks that deform to accommodate the inflow of magma. However, the broad range of magma viscosity and the very broad range of crustal rock mechanical behaviours make these processes extremely challenging to address. In the field, studying these processes require exceptional outcrops displaying both (1) the large-scale shapes of the magmatic conduits and (2) the small-scale host rock structures to reveal how their deformation accommodated the emplacement of magma. Such outstanding outcrops are seldom around the world, however, Svalbard and notably Isfjorden displays world-class outcrops of basaltic sills emplaced in sedimentary rocks. The uniqueness of Svalbard is that basaltic sills have been emplaced is sedimentary rocks of distinct lithologies (Carboniferous carbonates, Triassic shales). The proposed fieldwork intends to test the following working hypothesis: distinct rock lithologies govern distinct emplacement mechanisms of the magma resulting in distinct intrusion shapes. Testing this hypothesis becomes possible in Svalbard by mapping in great details (1) the large-scale 3D shapes of extensively exposed sills and (2) the local-scale structures in their host rocks close to the intrusions’ contacts. The Svalbard outcrops are world-class and provide new outstanding possibilities for fundamental understanding of magma emplacement mechanisms.

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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum