Basalt sills of the U reflector, Newfoundland basin: A serendipitous dating technique

Garry D. Karner, Donna J. Shillington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


High core recovery at Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 210, Site 1276, provided a high-resolution porosity-depth relationship and an equally impressive age-depth model based on first and last occurrences of microfossils. Site 1276 was drilled over transitional crust in the Newfoundland nonvolcanic margin, offshore Canada, between known continental crust on the west and apparent oceanic crust on the east as identified by seafloor-spreading magnetic anomalies M3 to M0 (Barremian-Aptian, 129.8-124.8 Ma). At Site 1276, two diabase sills were drilled at depths equivalent to the U reflection, a bright reflection that overlies transitional crust interpreted from seismic reflection profiles throughout the Newfoundland Basin. The sills were emplaced within uppermost Aptian fine- to coarse-grained sediments, 100-200 m above basement as estimated from seismic reflection data. Magma emplacement occurred at shallow levels within the sediment column, as evidenced by: (1) the occurrence of vesicles in the sill, and (2) compaction-induced folding of calcite veins that were emplaced near vertically in the sediments and are assumed to be coeval with the intrusion. By calculating the degree of shortening of the calcite veins and determining the reconstructed porosity of the sediments during vein emplacement, the age of magma emplacement can be deduced. From the porosity-age curve, the age of sill emplacement is estimated to be 82.5-109.1 Ma, consistent with recent 40Ar/39Ar radiometric dating of the upper sill that gave ages of 105.95 ± 1.78 Ma and 104.7 ± 1.7 Ma. The source of magmatism responsible for the diabase sills is necessarily postrift, and the sills are temporally equivalent to alkali basalts dredged from the Newfoundland Seamounts. The simplest explanation for the Site 1276 diabases and the widespread distribution of the U reflection relates to the migration of the Azores, Madeira, and Canary plumes across the Newfoundland Basin between 80 and 120 Ma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)985-988
Number of pages4
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Compaction
  • Early postrift magmatism
  • Newfoundland Basin extension
  • Ocean Drilling Program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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