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The Barents Sea is situated on the continental shelf between Norway, the Spitsbergen Islands, and Novaya Zemlya. The main structural framework of the area was formed during the Caledonian and Hercynian orogenies, whereas the western parts were reactivated by the Kimmerian and Alpine orogenies. Because of the complex opening of the Greenland-Norwegian Sea, important Tertiary reactivation of Mesozoic normal faults occurred along southwest-northeast-trending systems of wrench faults.
Owing to substantial erosion in the late Tertiary, the subsidence history and thermal development are more difficult to unravel in this area than in other places along the Norwegian Shelf. The erosion products were deposited in a huge sedimentary wedge extending onto the oceanic crust.
The hydrocarbon discoveries in the Troms area in the southern part of the Barents Sea are encouraging for further exploration. However, the petroleum potential for large areas is not well known at this stage.
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