Tectonic synthesis and contextual setting for the Palaeozoic of the Moray Firth region, Orcadian Basin

Leslie, A.G.; Monaghan, A.A.; Arsenikos, S.; Quinn, M.. 2016 Tectonic synthesis and contextual setting for the Palaeozoic of the Moray Firth region, Orcadian Basin. British Geological Survey, 20pp. (CR/16/039N) (Unpublished)

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This report is designed simply to provide a summary tectonic outline and contextual setting against which offshore seismic and well data relating to the Devono-Carboniferous evolution of the Inner Moray Firth region, adjacent areas of the Orcadian Basin, and UK offshore regions can be considered. This summary is intended to help better frame the questions that will arise during interrogation of that data; the findings that result from that analysis are presented elsewhere in the report series (Arsenikos et al., 2016; Kimbell & Williamson, 2016; Monaghan et al., 2016). The pattern of Devonian and Carboniferous tectonics in the Moray Firth region will be strongly influenced by the underlying pattern of (N)NE-(S)SW tending Caledonian basement discontinuities transecting the region, in particular the expression of regional stress patterns along and across the trace of the Great Glen – Walls Boundary Fault Zone (GGFZ). Sinistral motion, on that very large-scale intra-Laurussian structure, is seen throughout most of the Upper Palaeozoic (Dewey and Strachan, 2003) but by the late Carboniferous, interaction of Baltica-Siberia across the Ural Sea foredeep had come into play, promoting dextral shear on the GGFZ (Coward, 1993; cf. Domeier and Torsvik, 2014). In the Devono-Carboniferous, and under the influence of overall sinistral transcurrent motion on the GGFZ, E(SE)-W(NW) directed stretching should be anticipated in the Moray Firth region with N(NE)-S(SW) oriented extensional faults likely. Such structures would be similar in style to the patterns of faulting associated with the Devonian outliers observed onshore in Moray- Buchan, and also as described in the Helmsdale region (Underhill & Brodie, 1993). In addition to a strong ‘basement’ control from inherited Caledonian (N)NE to (S)SW features, there is likely also to be underlying control from any Caledonian plutonic complexes present (Kimbell & Williamson, 2016). The present day pattern of Moray Firth faulting, established depocentres and intra-basinal highs, comprises a strong Mesozoic pattern of tectonic features (e.g. Andrews et al., 1990; Underhill 1991; Thomson and Underhill 1993) superimposed on older (‘post-Caledonian’) tectonic patterns established in the Late Carboniferous, most likely in response to the south-westwards movement of Baltica relative to Laurussia at this time (cf. Coward, 1993). Those regional stresses generated dextral shear in the GGFZ, coincident with strongly partitioned strain in the North Sea basin interior (Leslie et al. 2015). From Late Carboniferous times, N(NW) – S(SE) directed extension in the Inner Moray Firth region generated W(SW)-E(NE) trending extensional faults (e.g. the Banff and Wick faults). This stress régime sets in place the framework of highs and lows preceding any Permian uplift and younger tectonics as the switch to the earliest Atlantic-opening stresses occurred. WNW-ESE directed extension, observed and dated in the Pentland Firth area (267+/-3 Ma, Dichiarante et al. 2015), will likely generate increasingly oblique (sinistral?) wrench on the Wick/Banff Faults from this time. Dip-slip components of movement are likely on the older (N)NE- (S)SW-trending structures inherited from the Caledonian, e.g. the Helmsdale/Strathconnon Faults, and perhaps the GGFZ; the latter may be too steep and fundamental a structure to actively respond in pure extension at this time.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Funders/Sponsors: British Geological Survey
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This report is a published product of the 21st Century Exploration Road Map (21CXRM) Palaeozoic project. This joint industry-Government-BGS project comprised a regional petroleum systems analysis of the offshore Devonian and Carboniferous in the North Sea and Irish Sea. This report made open April 2017
Date made live: 04 Apr 2017 12:27 +0 (UTC)

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