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Models of Subsidence Mechanisms in Intracratonic Basins, and Their Applicability to North American Examples
This paper examines the physical mechanisms by which the surface of the Earth subsides to form intracratonic basins. The geological consequences of a number of models currently in the literature are compared with observations from the Michigan, Illinois, Williston and Hudson Bay basins of North America. The intent is to provide a critical evaluation of existing models and to point out areas where available observational data are insufficient to constrain model predictions.
Specific models considered in this paper assume that the development of intracratonic basins is influenced by one or more of the following processes: decay of thermal anomalies with or without some specified mechanical modification to the lithosphere such as might be produced by subaerial erosion or phase transformations; isostatic equilibration of ancient rift structures underlying intracratonic basins by the application of in-plane lithospheric stress; uplift of adjacent arches through either thermal or mechanical processes; and mechanical coupling of intracratonic basins with adjacent foreland basins.
It is shown that, while some features of intracratonic basins are compatible with one or more of these models, no single model can clearly explain all features. To a large extent, this difficulty stems from a paucity of data relating to the crustal structure beneath intracratonic basins.
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