Baltic Shield

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Geological map of Fennoscandia
  Archean rocks of the Karelia, Belomorian and Kola domains
  Proterozoic rocks of the Karelia and Kola domains
  Sveconorwegian Orogen (including the Western Gneiss Region)

The Baltic Shield (or Fennoscandian Shield) is a segment of the Earth's crust belonging to the East European Craton, representing a large part of Fennoscandia, northwestern Russia and the northern Baltic Sea. It is composed mostly of Archean and Proterozoic gneisses and greenstone which have undergone numerous deformations through tectonic activity. It contains the oldest rocks of the European continent with a thickness of 250-300 km.

The Baltic Shield is divided into five provinces: the Svecofennian and Sveconorwegian (or Southwestern gneiss) provinces in Fennoscandia, and the Karelian, Belmorian and Kola provinces in Russia. The latter three are divided further into several blocks and complexes and contain the oldest of the rocks, at 2500-3100 Ma (million years) old. The youngest rocks belong to the Sveconorwegian province, at 900-1700 Ma old.

Thought to be formerly part of an ancient continent, the Baltic Shield grew in size through collisions with neighbouring crustal fragments. The mountains created by this tectonic processes have since been eroded to their bases, the region being largely flat today. Through five successive Pleistocene glaciations and subsequent retreats, the Baltic Shield has been scoured clean of its overlying sediments, leaving expansive areas (most within Scandinavia) exposed. It is therefore of importance to geophysicists studying the geologic history and dynamics of eastern Europe.

The scouring and compression of the Baltic Shield by glacial movements created the area's many lakes and streams, the land retaining only a thin layer of sandy sediment collected in depressions and eskers. Most soil consists of moraine, a grayish yellow mixture of sand and rocks, with a thin layer of humus on top. Vast forests, featuring almost exclusively the three species pine, spruce and birch, dominate the landscape, clearly demarcating its boundaries. The soil is acidic and has next to no carbonates such as limestone. The scouring by the ancient glaciers and the acidity of the soil have destroyed all palaentologically interesting materials, such as fossils.

The Baltic Shield yields important industrial minerals and ores, such as those of iron, nickel, copper and platinum group metals. Because of its similarity to the Canadian Shield and cratons of southern Africa and Western Australia, the Baltic Shield had long been a suspected source of diamonds and gold. Currently, especially the Central Lapland Greenstone Belt in the north is considered to be an unexplored area that has the potential to hold exploitable gold deposits.

Recent exploration by De Beers and others has revealed a significant number of diamond-bearing kimberlites in the Kola Peninsula, and (possibly extensive) deposits of gold in Finland. In Sweden, Alcaston Diamond NL is presently conducting a diamond exploration project, claiming some 9,550 km².

Denudation chronology[edit]

Mountains that existed in Precambrian time were eroded into a subdued terrain terrain already during the late Mesoproterozoic when the rapakivi granites intruded.[1] Further erosion made the terrain rather flat at the time of the deposition of Jotnian sediments.[2][3] With Proterozoic erosion amounting to tens of kilometers[4] many of the Precambrian rocks seen today in Finland are the "roots" of ancient massifs.[5] The last major leveling event resulted in the formation of the Sub-Cambrian peneplain in late Neoproterozoic time.[6][7]

Laurentia and Baltica collided in the Silurian and Devonian producing a Himalayas-sized mountain range named the Caledonian Mountains roughly over the same area as the present-day Scandinavian Mountains.[8][9] During the Caledonian orogeny, Finland was likely a sunken foreland basin covered by sediments, subsequent uplift and erosion would have eroded all of these sediments.[10] While Finland has remained buried[11] or very close to sea-level since the formation of the Sub-Cambrian peneplain some further relief was formed by a slight uplift resulting in the carving of valleys by rivers. The slight uplift does also means that at parts the uplifted peneplain can be traced as summit accordances.[12]

Luosto, an inselberg in Finnish Lapland

Denudation in the Mesozoic is counted at most in hundreds of meters.[13] The inselberg plain of Finnish Lapland it is estimated to have formed in Late Cretaceous or Paleogene time either by pediplanation or etchplanation. Any older Mesozoic surface in Finnish Lapland is unlikely to have survived erosion.[14] Further west, the Muddus plains and its inselbergs formed —also by etching and pediplanation— in connection to the uplift of the northern Scandinavian Mountains in the Paleogene.[15]

The northern Scandinavian Mountains had their main uplift in the Paleogene while the southern Scandinavian Mountains and the South Swedish Dome were largely uplifted in the Neogene.[16][17] The uplifts events were concurrent with the uplift of Eastern Greenland.[18] All of these uplifts are thought to be related to far-field stresses in Earth’s lithosphere. The Scandinavian Mountains and the South Swedish Dome can according to this view be likened to a giant anticlinal lithospheric folds. Folding could have been caused by horizontal compression acting on a thin to thick crust transition zone (as are all passive margins).[19][20] The uplift of the Scandinavian Mountains resulted in the progressive tilt of northern Sweden contributing to create the parallel drainage pattern of northern Sweden.[21] As the South Swedish Dome uplifted this resulted in the formation of a piedmonttreppen and the obstruction of the Eridanos River diverting it to the south.[22]

While being repeatedly covered by glaciers during the Quaternary (last 2.5 million years) glacial erosion has had a limited effect in changing the topography of Fennoscandia. Denudation during this time is geographically highly variable but averages tens of meters.[23] The southern coast of Finland, Åland and the Stockholm archipelago were subject to considerable glacial erosion in the form of scraping during the Quaternary.[24] The Quaternary ice ages resulted in the glacier's erosion of irregularly distributed weak rock, weathered rock mantles, and loose materials. When the ice masses retreated, eroded depressions turned into the many lakes seen now in Finland and Sweden.[25][26] Fractures in the bedrock were particularly affected by weathering and erosion, leaving as result straight sea and lake inlets.[27]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lindberg, Johan (April 4, 2016). "berggrund och ytformer". Uppslagsverket Finland (in Swedish). Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  2. ^ Lindberg, Johan (April 4, 2016). "berggrund och ytformer". Uppslagsverket Finland (in Swedish). Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  3. ^ Lundmark, Anders Mattias; Lamminen, Jarkko (2016). "The provenance and setting of the Mesoproterozoic Dala Sandstone, western Sweden, and paleogeographic implications for southwestern Fennoscandia". Precambrian Research. 275: 197–208.
  4. ^ Lidmar-Bergström, Karna (1997). "A long-term perspective on glacial erosion". Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 22: 297–306.
  5. ^ Lindberg, Johan (April 4, 2016). "berggrund och ytformer". Uppslagsverket Finland (in Swedish). Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  6. ^ Lindberg, Johan (April 4, 2016). "berggrund och ytformer". Uppslagsverket Finland (in Swedish). Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  7. ^ Japsen, Peter; Green, Paul F.; Bonow, Johan M.; Erlström, Mikael (2016). "Episodic burial and exhumation of the southern Baltic Shield: Epeirogenic uplifts during and after break-up of Pangaea". Gondwana Research. 35: 357–377.
  8. ^ Gabrielsen, Roy H.; Faleide, Jan Inge; Pascal, Christophe; Braathen, Alvar; Nystuen, Johan Petter; Etzelmuller, Bernd; O'Donnel, Sejal (2010). "Latest Caledonian to Present tectonomorphological development of southern Norway". Marine and Petroleum Geology. 27: 709–723. doi:10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2009.06.004.
  9. ^ Green, Paul F.; Lidmar-Bergström, Karna; Japsen, Peter; Bonow, Johan M.; Chalmers, James A. (2013). "Stratigraphic landscape analysis, thermochronology and the episodic development of elevated, passive continental margins". Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland Bulletin. 30: 18. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  10. ^ Murrell, G.R.; Andriessen, P.A.M. (2004). "Unravelling a long-term multi-event thermal record in the cratonic interior of southern Finland through apatite fission track thermochronology". Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C. 29 (10): 695–706. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
  11. ^ Murrell, G.R.; Andriessen, P.A.M. (2004). "Unravelling a long-term multi-event thermal record in the cratonic interior of southern Finland through apatite fission track thermochronology". Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C. 29 (10): 695–706. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
  12. ^ Lindberg, Johan (April 4, 2016). "berggrund och ytformer". Uppslagsverket Finland (in Swedish). Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  13. ^ Lidmar-Bergström, Karna (1997). "A long-term perspective on glacial erosion". Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 22: 297–306.
  14. ^ Kaitanen, Veijo (1985). "Problems concerning the origin of inselbergs in Finnish Lapland". Fennia. 163 (2): 359–364.
  15. ^ Lidmar-Bergström, K.; Näslund, J.O. (2002). "Landforms and uplift in Scandinavia". In Doré, A.G.; Cartwright, J.A.; Stoker, M.S.; Turner, J.P.; White, N. Exhumation of the North Atlantic Margin: Timing, Mechanisms and Implications for Petroleum Exploration. Geological Society, London, Special Publications. The Geological Society of London. pp. 103–116.
  16. ^ Lidmar-Bergström, K.; Näslund, J.O. (2002). "Landforms and uplift in Scandinavia". In Doré, A.G.; Cartwright, J.A.; Stoker, M.S.; Turner, J.P.; White, N. Exhumation of the North Atlantic Margin: Timing, Mechanisms and Implications for Petroleum Exploration. Geological Society, London, Special Publications. The Geological Society of London. pp. 103–116.
  17. ^ Lidmar-Bergström, Karna; Olvmo, Mats; Bonow, Johan M. (2017). "The South Swedish Dome: a key structure for identification of peneplains and conclusions on Phanerozoic tectonics of an ancient shield". GFF.
  18. ^ Green, Paul F.; Lidmar-Bergström, Karna; Japsen, Peter; Bonow, Johan M.; Chalmers, James A. (2013). "Stratigraphic landscape analysis, thermochronology and the episodic development of elevated, passive continental margins". Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland Bulletin. 30: 18. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  19. ^ Japsen, Peter; Chalmers, James A.; Green, Paul F.; Bonow, Johan M. (2012). "Elevated, passive continental margins: Not rift shoulders, but expressions of episodic, post-rift burial and exhumation". Global and Planetary Change. 90-91: 73–86.
  20. ^ Løseth and Hendriksen 2005
  21. ^ Redfied, T.F.; Osmundsen, P.T. (2013). "The long-term topographic response of a continent adjacent to a hyperextended margin: A case study from Scandinavia". GSA Bulletin. 125 (1): 184–200. doi:10.1130/B30691.1.
  22. ^ Lidmar-Bergström, Karna; Olvmo, Mats; Bonow, Johan M. (2017). "The South Swedish Dome: a key structure for identification of peneplains and conclusions on Phanerozoic tectonics of an ancient shield". GFF.
  23. ^ Lidmar-Bergström, Karna (1997). "A long-term perspective on glacial erosion". Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 22: 297–306.
  24. ^ Kleman, J.; Stroeven, A.P.; Lundqvist, Jan (2008). "Patterns of Quaternary ice sheet erosion and deposition in Fennoscandia and a theoretical framework for explanation". Geomorphology. 97 (1–2): 73–90.
  25. ^ Lindberg, Johan (April 4, 2016). "berggrund och ytformer". Uppslagsverket Finland (in Swedish). Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  26. ^ Lidmar-Bergström, K.; Olsson, S.; Roaldset, E. (1999). "Relief features and palaeoweathering remnants in formerly glaciated Scandinavian basement areas". In Thiry, Médard; Simon-Coinçon, Régine. Palaeoweathering, Palaeosurfaces and Related Continental Deposits. Special publication of the International Association of Sedimentologists. 27. Blackwell Science Ltd. pp. 275–301. ISBN 0-632 -05311-9.
  27. ^ Lindberg, Johan (April 4, 2016). "berggrund och ytformer". Uppslagsverket Finland (in Swedish). Retrieved November 30, 2017.