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Investigating cratonic basins

Understanding the formation of common geological features could enable prediction of changes in earth’s structure in the past as well as in the future. A recent project has contributed to our understanding of how large sedimentary basins form, thus, furthering our knowledge on plate tectonics.
Investigating cratonic basins
These features, known as cratonic basins, contain sedimentary records going back hundreds of millions of years. They may offer many clues about plate tectonics and the lithosphere (the rocky shell of the planet).

The EU-funded 'Cratonic basins: An archive of lithosphere-mantle interaction' (CRATONIC BASINS) project explored the relationship between continental movement and cratonic basins. The overall aim was to understand how changes to the lithosphere were recorded in these basins.

Researchers developed a model of continental movement in relation to the surrounding continental plates, both laterally and vertically. The model predicts the observed movement of the North American coastline, suggesting a deep control on surface topography.

Another aspect of the work involved investigating the deposit of sediment into these cratonic basins over time. The study showed that sediment accumulation provides a record of climate change, specifically rainfall, as well as vertical continental movement.

The work of CRATONIC BASINS has major implications for the prospecting of hydrocarbons. Elucidating lithosphere changes in cratonic basins has also improved our understanding of continental movement and climate change in the past.

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