Proto-basement in Svalbard

  • W. B. Harland


Candidates for possible Precambrian proto-basement throughout Svalbard are considered and evaluated. The paper provides a tectono-stratigraphic framework for consideration of new data. Proto-basement, in the sense of basement in Proterozoic time, implies the occurrence of a Precambrian tectonic event. Vendian rocks are widespread in Svalbard and, because there is no known Vendian major tectonic event, the search is narrowed to pre-Vendian rocks. The approach is primarily tectono-stratigraphic, to identify a significant break by unconformity, contrast in metamorphic facies and isotopic age determinations. The paper concludes that the following rock units are proto-basement: Isbjømhamna and (newly defined) Eimfjellet groups, Nordbukta Group, Magnethøgda Group, the Richarddalen Complex; the Atomfjella Complex, the Brennevinsfjorden Group and the granitoids related to the Kapp Hansteen Group and the Duvefjorden Complex. While considered unlikely to be proto-basement the following cannot be ruled out: the Mefonntoppane and Kistefjellet rocks and the Sigfredbogen unit, the blue-schist Vestgötabreen rocks, the Pinkie Formation and parts of the Kongsvegen Group. Terrane implications are consistent with the three terrane model of Harland & Wright (1979), modified by Harland et al. (1993); but the data presented here hardly constrain such a model. In so far as the conclusions here are valid the effect is to subtract from, rather than add to, the outcrops commonly mapped as likely proto-basement.


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How to Cite
Harland, W. B. (1997). Proto-basement in Svalbard. Polar Research, 16(2), 123-147.
Research/review articles