The crustal structure of Ellesmere Island, Arctic Canada—teleseismic mapping across a remote intraplate orogenic belt

Christian Schiffer, Randell Stephenson, Gordon N. Oakey, Bo H Jacobsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Ellesmere Island in Arctic Canada displays a complex geological evolution. The region was affected by two distinct orogenies, the Palaeozoic Ellesmerian orogeny (the Caledonian equivalent in Arctic Canada and Northern Greenland) and the Palaeogene Eurekan orogeny, related to the opening of Baffin Bay and the consequent convergence of the Greenland plate. The details of this complex evolution and the present-day deep structure are poorly constrained in this remote area and deep geophysical data are sparse. Receiver function analysis of seven temporary broad-band seismometers of the Ellesmere Island Lithosphere Experiment complemented by two permanent stations provides important data on the crustal velocity structure of Ellesmere Island. The crustal expression of the northernmost tectonic block of Ellesmere Island (∼82°–83°N), Pearya, which was accreted during the Ellesmerian orogeny, is similar to that at the southernmost part, which is part of the Precambrian Laurentian (North America-Greenland) craton. Both segments have thick crystalline crust (∼35–36 km) and comparable velocity–depth profiles. In contrast, crustal thickness in central Ellesmere Island decreases from ∼24–30 km in the Eurekan fold and thrust belt (∼79.7°–80.6°N) to ∼16–20 km in the Hazen Stable Block (HSB; ∼80.6°–81.4°N) and is covered by a thick succession of metasediments. A deep crustal root (∼48 km) at ∼79.6°N is interpreted as cratonic crust flexed beneath the Eurekan fold and thrust belt. The Carboniferous to Palaeogene sedimentary succession of the Sverdrup Basin is inferred to be up to 1–4 km thick, comparable to geologically-based estimates, near the western margin of the HSB.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1579-1600
Number of pages22
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
Early online date28 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • body waves
  • intra-plate processes
  • continental tectonics : compressional
  • crustal strcture
  • Arctic region


Dive into the research topics of 'The crustal structure of Ellesmere Island, Arctic Canada—teleseismic mapping across a remote intraplate orogenic belt'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this