Arctic lithosphere: a review

V. Pease, S. Drachev, R. Stephenson, X. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


This article reviews the characteristics of Arctic lithosphere and the principal tectonic events which have shaped it. The current state-of-knowledge associated with the crust, crustal-scale discontinuities, and their ages, as well as knowledge of the lithosphere as a whole from geophysical data, permits the division of Arctic lithosphere into discrete domains.

Arctic continental lithosphere is diverse in age, composition, and structure. It has been affected by at least two periods of thermal overprinting associated with large volumes of magmatism, once in the Permo-Triassic and again in the Aptian. In addition, it was attenuated as the result of at least five phases of rifting (in the late Devonian–early Carboniferous, Permo-Triassic, Jurassic, Early Cretaceous, and Late Cretaceous–Cenozoic).

Older phases of consolidation are associated with continental lithosphere and occurred through a series of continent–continent collisions in the Paleozoic. Jurassic and Cretaceous extensional phases are related to the dismembering of Pangea and Eurasia, and were concentrated in the Norway-Greenland and Canadian-Alaskan Arctic regions. Large areas of submarine, hyperextended continental (?) lithosphere developed in parts of the Amerasia Basin. After continental breakup and the accretion of new oceanic lithosphere, the Eurasia and Canada basins were formed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
Early online date5 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

This is a CALE publication. Funding from CALE sponsors (IASC, ILP, ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, StatOil, Chevron, Shell) and the Swedish Research Council to VP is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Arctic
  • continental lithosphere
  • oceanic lithosphere
  • tectonics


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