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Diversity of igneous rocks from the Isachsen Dome, Ellef Ringnes Island, Canadian High Arctic

  • Solveig Estrada
  • Karsten PiepjohnEmail author
Case Report


The sedimentary deposits of the central Sverdrup Basin on Ellef Ringnes Island were affected by both salt diapirism and igneous activity of the Cretaceous High Arctic Large Igneous Province (HALIP). Occurrences of mafic igneous rocks on the centre of salt domes are usually assigned to the Cretaceous magmatism. Petrographic, geochemical, Sr–Nd isotope, and geochronological (Ar–Ar dating) studies on six rock fragments collected on the top of Isachsen Dome reveal a larger variability in the composition and the age compared to HALIP-related rocks from elsewhere on Ellef Ringnes Island. A blocky fragment of tholeiitic hornblende dolerite with an Ar–Ar age of 121 Ma is interpreted to originate from an in-situ intrusion and was uplifted by evaporite diapirism. The other samples are small, sub-rounded pebbles, which represent three different parent rock types. A kaersutite-bearing alkali basalt was possibly formed during the Triassic or Permian. A leucocratic, albitised rock fragment has experienced contact metasomatism at 102 Ma, and three very similar tholeiitic basalt fragments probably derived from the margin of a dyke were auto-hydrothermally affected at 69 Ma. The inferred source area of these exotic pebbles is the segment of the Arctic continental margin in the northeast that was repeatedly affected by igneous events between the Carboniferous and latest Cretaceous and that was uplifted and eroded during the Eocene. The rock fragments were probably deposited as Palaeogene sediments above the rising Isachsen diapir shortly before or as the head of the salt dome has pierced the Earth’s surface. Glacial transport up the top of Isachsen Dome during the Late Wisconsinan glaciation is not very likely due to the contrast between the north to northwest directed ice-flow direction reported in the literature and the assumed northeastern source area of the pebbles; however, it cannot be completely excluded.


Sverdrup Basin HALIP Magmatism Salt diapirism Ar–Ar dating 



K.P. is very grateful for the invitation of the Geological Survey of Canada to join the expedition on Ellef Ringnes Island in summer 2010. Especially he would like to thank the expedition leader Dr. Stephen Grasby for the great support of the field work and the logistical support by the Polar Continental Shelf Program (PCSP). We are grateful to Gennyne McCune for collecting the rock samples on the top of Isachsen Dome. Discussions on the Ar–Ar dating results with Yakov Kapusta (GeochronEx, former at Actlabs, Canada) are greatly appreciated. Friedhelm Henjes-Kunst has provided the Rb–Sr and Sm–Nd isotope data (Table 3). We thank him and Nikola Koglin for critical discussions of the manuscript. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that greatly helped to improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 516 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (BGR)HannoverGermany

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