Proterozoic sutures and terranes in the southeastern Baltic Shield interpreted from BABEL deep seismic data

T. Abramovitz*, A. Berthelsen, H. Thybo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


A hitherto unknown terrane and its bounding sutures have been revealed by a combined study of normal-incidence and wide-angle seismic data along the BABEL profile in the Baltic Sea. This Intermediate Terrane is situated between a Northern Terrane of Svecofennian age and a Southwestern Terrane of Gothian age. It is delimited upwards by two low-angle and oppositely dipping sutures and occupies mainly middle and lower crustal levels with a width of ∼ 300 km at Moho level. The ∼ 1.86 Ga suture against the Northern Terrane is imaged by a prominent almost continuous NE-dipping crustal reflection from 3.5 to 14 s twt over 175 km. Where it downlaps on the Moho, sub-Moho velocities change from 8.2 to 7.8 km / s (± 0.2) over less than 25 km. A relatively strong, NE-dipping normal-incidence and wide-angle reflection at 19-23 s twt indicates that the suture extends into the upper mantle. The pervasive NE-dipping reflection fabric of the Intermediate Terrane is interpreted as shear zones that developed during collision and possibly were reactivated by later events. High Poisson's ratios suggest a mafic composition or high fluid content. The ∼ 1.86 Ga collision was probably succeeded by continental break-up and removal of an unknown continent, except for the Intermediate Terrane. Subsequent formation of an east-dipping subduction zone further to the west led to the emplacement of 1.81-1.77-Ga-old granitoids in the southern part of the Transscandinavian Igneous Belt. The ∼ 1.65-1.60 Ga suture against the Southwestern Terrane is defined by a semi-continuous band of strong SW-dipping reflections between 3 and 8 s twt over 65 km, which are interpreted as a low-angle thrust zone along which Gothian crust overrode the Intermediate Terrane. The identification of three individual seismic terranes in the southeastern part of the Baltic Shield provides new evidence for Palaeoproterozoic plate tectonic processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-277
Number of pages19
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • BABEL deep seismic data
  • Baltic Shield
  • Crustal evolution
  • Proterozoic
  • Seismic velocity structure
  • Sutures
  • Terranes


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