An extensive rift system developed within the northern foreland of the Variscan orogenic belt during Late Carboniferous-Early Permian times, post-dating the Devonian-Early Carboniferous accretion of various Neoproterozoic Gondwana-derived terranes on to the southern margin of Laurussia (Laurentia-Baltica; Fig. 1). Rifting was associated with widespread magmatism and with a fundamental change, at the Westphalian-Stephanian boundary, in the regional stress field affecting western and central Europe (Ziegler 1990; Ziegler & Cloetingh 2003). The change in regional stress patterns was coincident with the termination of orogenic activity in the Variscan fold belt, followed by major dextral translation between North Africa and Europe.
Rifting propagated across a collage of basement terranes with different ages and thermal histories. Whilst most of the Carboniferous-Permian rift basins of NW Europe developed on relatively thin lithosphere, the highly magmatic Oslo Graben in southern Norway initiated within the thick, stable and, presumably, strong (cold) lithosphere of the Fennoscandian craton. The rift basins in the North Sea, in contrast, developed in younger Caledonian age lithosphere, which was both thinner and warmer than the lithosphere of the craton to the east.
|Name||Geological Society Special Publication|
|Publisher||Geological Society of London|