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The Palaeogene flood basalts in East Greenland are
part of the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP)
formed during continental rifting and opening of the
northern North Atlantic (Saunders et al. 1997). Along
the Blosseville Kyst in southern and central East
Greenland the basalts are exposed onshore from
Kangerlussuaq in the south to Scoresby Sund in the
north (Larsen et al. 1989). The base of the volcanic suc-
cession is exposed at Kangerlussuaq and at Savoia Halvø
whereas post-basaltic sediments are found at two iso-
lated localities, Kap Dalton and Savoia Halvø (Fig. 2).
These three outcrop areas are thus key sources for bio-
stratigraphic data to constrain the onset and duration
of the Palaeogene volcanism in East Greenland, and are
widely used in reconstructions of the North Atlantic
region during continental break-up (e.g. Clift et al. 1998;
Dam et al. 1999). In August 2001 the Geological Survey
of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) carried out field
work in the sedimentary successions at Kap Dalton and
Savoia Halvø. This was the first visit by geologists to
Kap Dalton since 1975, and it is expected that the new
data will provide important new biostratigraphic infor-
mation and help to refine models for the Palaeogene
of the North Atlantic. This report, and the palynologi-
cal study of the sediments immediately below the basalts
at Savoia Halvø presented by Nøhr-Hansen & Piasecki
(2002, this volume), present the preliminary results of
the field work.
The presence of sediments at Kap Dalton was first
recognised by O. Nordenskjöld and N.E.K. Hartz in
1900 during the AmdrupHartz Expedition to East
Greenland (Fig. 1; Hartz 1902). A collection of sedi-
mentary rocks and fossils brought back by the expe-
dition was examined by Ravn (1904) and formed the
basis for dividing the succession into the sandy `Cyrena
Beds' and the shaly `Coeloma Beds'. Both units were
interpreted to be of Eocene age by comparison with
West European marine faunas, although the close resem-
blance between the Greenlandic crustacean Coeloma
bicarinatum in the `Coeloma Beds' and European Middle
Oligocene species was noted (Ravn 1904).
New studies of the sedimentary succession at Kap
Dalton were undertaken by L.R. Wager during the
Scoresby Sound Committee's 2nd East Greenland
Expedition in 1932 (Wager 1935). Wager recognised a
The post-basaltic Palaeogene and Neogene sediments at
Kap Dalton and Savoia Halvø, East Greenland
Michael Larsen, Stefan Piasecki and Lars Stemmerik
Fig. 1. The AmdrupHartz depot hut in the bay north-west of the
basaltic headland Kap Dalton.
Geology of Greenland Survey Bulletin 191, 103110 (2002) © GEUS, 2002
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 103
S coresby Sund
I n l a n d
I c e
Palaeogene basaltic rocks
Scree and ice
Kap Brewster Fm
Basalt Igtertivâ Fm
Upper basalt sequence
Fig. 2. Map of central and southern East Greenland showing distribution of the CarboniferousPalaeogene sediments and Palaeogene
flood basalts. A: Savoia Halvø; B: Kap Dalton (modified from, respectively, Nøhr-Hansen & Piasecki 2002, this volume and Birkenmajer
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 104
small graben structure in which the top of the basalts
and the overlying sedimentary succession are preserved.
He referred the sediments to the Lower, Middle and
Upper Series of the Kap Dalton Series and established
the correct stratigraphic succession: the `Cyrena Beds'
being the oldest and the `Coeloma Beds' the youngest
(Fig. 3). The main part of his paper, however, was
devoted to the petrology of the underlying basalt suc-
cession and alkaline basalt pebbles in a conglomerate
found at the base of the sedimentary succession.
The sedimentary successions at Savoia Halvø (Kap
Brewster) were discovered by D. Mackney and F.W.
Sherrell during the Danish Expedition to East Greenland
in 1951 (Hassan 1953). The sediments are preserved in
a series of small grabens and were divided by Hassan
(1953) into an Infra-Basalt unit below the lavas and the
Kap Dalton and Kap Brewster Series above (Fig. 3). The
Kap Dalton Series was further subdivided into the
`Cyrena Beds' and `Coeloma Beds' following the estab-
lished stratigraphy at the type locality. Based on macro-
fossils, Hassan (1953) assigned the Kap Brewster Series
(`Chlamys Beds') to the Miocene.
Kap Dalton and Savoia Halvø were revisited by geol-
ogists in the 1960s and 1970s as part of a mapping cam-
paign by the former Geological Survey of Greenland
(GGU), and a formal lithostratigraphy was established.
Based on field work at Savoia Halvø, Birkenmajer (1972)
renamed the `Cyrena Beds' and `Coeloma Beds' origi-
nally defined at Kap Dalton as the Bopladsdalen and
Krabbedalen Formations using geographical names
from Savoia Halvø (Fig. 3). More importantly, however,
new biostratigraphic data based on studies of dinofla-
gellate cysts and foraminifera considerably improved age
constraints on the units (Birkenmajer 1972; Soper & Costa
1976; Soper et al. 1976; Birkenmajer & Jednorowska
KD & SH
(KD) & SH
Soper et al. (1976)
Soper & Costa
p Dalton Series
p Dalton F
p Dalton F
p Dalton Gr
Fig. 3. Stratigraphic scheme showing different interpretations of the Palaeogene sediments at Kap Dalton (KD) and Savoia Halvø (SH).
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 105
The post-basaltic sedimentary succession at Kap Dalton
consists of the lower, sandstone-dominated Bopladsdalen
Formation and the upper, siltstone-dominated Krabbe-
dalen Formation (Birkenmajer 1972; Birkenmajer &
Jednorowska 1997). In the initial descriptions of the
sediments at Kap Dalton the field relationships between
the two formations were poorly constrained and both
formations were believed to be of Early to Middle
Eocene age based on macrofossils (Ravn 1904, 1933;
Wager 1935). Later studies of dinoflagellate cyst assem-
blages confirmed an Early Eocene age of the Boplads-
dalen Formation whereas the age of the Krabbedalen
Formation was revised to the Oligocene (probably Early
Oligocene) suggesting the presence of a hiatus at the for-
mation boundary (Soper & Costa 1976; Soper et al. 1976).
The sedimentary succession is generally poorly exposed
and correlation is further hampered by later faulting.
However, based on correlation of seven detailed sedi-
mentary sections measured in 2001 it is possible to con-
struct a composite profile, approximately 95 m thick,
comprising the entire post-basaltic stratigraphy (Fig. 4).
The sediments rest unconformably on a weathered
surface of subaerially extruded basalt flows of the
Igtertivâ Formation (Larsen et al. 1989). The basal unit
consists of a conglomerate, 23 m thick, with well-
rounded basalt pebbles. The petrology of the pebbles
was carefully examined by Wager (1935) who con-
cluded that the assemblage contained an exotic suite
of alkaline basalts not present anywhere else along the
coast. The basal conglomerate is overlain by approxi-
mately 50 m of fine- to coarse-grained sandstones form-
ing the bulk of the Bopladsdalen Formation. The
succession consists mainly of poorly indurated brown
and black sandstones rich in reworked basaltic mater-
ial forming the `Cyrena Beds' (sensu Ravn 1904).
However, yellowish, arkosic sandstones form distinct
marker units at two stratigraphic levels. The yellow sand-
stones are slightly better cemented than the brown sand-
stones and show well-preserved sedimentary structures,
mostly planar and trough cross-bedding indicating
palaeocurrent directions towards the south and south-
east. Locally, U-shaped vertical burrows of Diplocraterion
and Ophiomorpha types are abundant. The bivalve
Cyrena occurs in 1030 cm thick beds of well-cemented,
Mud F M C Gr Pb
rich in basaltic material
Crab (Coeloma bicarinatum)
Degree of bioturbation
Fig. 4. Composite sedimentological profile of the Eocene
Oligocene succession at Kap Dalton.
Fig. 5. Concretions with perfectly preserved imprints of the crab
Coeloma bicarinatum from the Oligocene Krabbedalen Formation
at Kap Dalton. Concretion is 6 cm across.
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 106
medium- to coarse-grained brown sandstone packed
with disarticulated shells of Cyrena and scattered gas-
tropods in the middle part of the succession.
The boundary between the Bopladsdalen and
Krabbedalen Formations is marked by a change from
coarse-grained, arkosic sandstones below to poorly
consolidated, grey-brown, fine-grained sandstones
above. The latter form the lower 20 m of the Krabbedalen
Formation and are overlain by approximately 20 m of
laminated, fine-grained sandstones and siltstones, car-
rying numerous concretions (the `Coeloma Beds' sensu
Ravn 1904). With few exceptions the concretions con-
tain perfectly preserved imprints of the crab Coeloma
bicarinatum (Fig. 5).
The weathered surface of the basalts suggests a period
of subaerial exposure prior to the onset of sedimentary
deposition. The clast-supported conglomerate carrying
well-rounded, exotic clasts is accordingly interpreted as
laid down by a fluvial system transporting coarse ero-
sional products from the volcanic hinterland. The flu-
vial channels were apparently restricted to topographic
lows in the lava surface and the conglomerate is only
very locally developed. During Early Eocene times the
area was transgressed and the fluvial deposits and the
adjacent basaltic surface were reworked. A thick shal-
low marine succession punctuated by at least two
progradational events was deposited during the remain-
ing part of Bopladsdalen Formation time. The top of
the Bopladsdalen Formation is a distinct flooding sur-
face reflecting a change towards deeper marine con-
ditions. The frequent occurrence of small crabs and the
general fine-grained lithology of the overlying Krabbe-
dalen Formation suggest deposition in a low energy,
possibly oxygen deficient environment. The interpre-
tation of the entire post-basaltic succession as deposited
during an overall transgression does not support the exis-
tence of a major hiatus at the boundary between the
two formations as suggested by Soper & Costa (1976).
The pre-basaltic sediments exposed on the north coast
of Savoia Halvø adjacent to the former Kap Brewster
settlement are described by Nøhr-Hansen & Piasecki
(2002, this volume), and focus in this study is on the
post-basaltic sediments of the Palaeogene Kap Dalton
and the Neogene Kap Brewster Formations (Hassan
1953; Birkenmajer 1972). The Palaeogene sediments
were divided by Hassan (1953) into the `Cyrena Beds'
and `Coeloma Beds' following the stratigraphic scheme
from Kap Dalton. Based on macrofossils the `Cyrena
Beds' were interpreted to be of Late Eocene age, thus
differing from the age assigned to the succession at
Kap Dalton (Fig. 4; Ravn 1904, 1933). The overlying
`Coeloma Beds' were suggested to be of Early Oligocene
age at Savoia Halvø, thus following conformably upon
the `Cyrena Beds'. An Early Oligocene age was sup-
ported by the foraminifer assemblage described by
Birkenmajer (1972) and Birkenmajer & Jednorowska
(1977, 1997). In their publications Birkenmajer &
Jednorowska presented a revised stratigraphic scheme
changing the age of the Bopladsdalen Formation to
Early Eocene (Fig. 4), but this new interpretation was
not discussed nor supported by new data.
The Neogene Kap Brewster Formation (`Chlamys
Beds' sensu Hassan 1953) was thought to be of Miocene
age based on the macrofossils, although Hassan (1953)
stressed that this age was to be regarded as tentative
until supported or revised by further evidence.
Unfortunately, no such evidence has yet come to light
and the presumed Miocene age of the Kap Brewster
Formation has still to be confirmed.
The sediments on Savoia Halvø are exposed along the
river flowing east and north through the valleys
Krabbedalen and Bopladsdalen (Fig. 6). The sandstone-
dominated Bopladsdalen Formation, 90 m thick, and
the lower part of the mudstone-dominated Krabbedalen
Formation, 40 m thick, are exposed in a continuous out-
crop (Fig. 7A). The approximately 110 m thick con-
glomeratic Kap Brewster Formation is limited to an
isolated outcrop at Muslingehjørnet some 12 km fur-
ther to the north, and cannot be correlated with the other
post-basaltic units on field criteria.
The sediments of the Bopladsdalen Formation uncon-
formably overlie a weathered surface of basalts with pil-
low structures. The lowermost unit is 12 m thick and
consists of a matrix-supported conglomerate carrying
well-rounded basaltic boulders. The conglomerate is
overlain by a thick sandstone-dominated succession
showing a general fining-upward trend (Fig. 7A). In
the lower part numerous incursions of coarse-grained
material of angular basalt pebbles are concentrated in
erosional layers and elongate lenses showing normal
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 107
grading. Bivalve shell material is locally present on bed-
ding surfaces. Higher in the succession silicified tree
trunks, up to 5 m long, are interbedded within fine- to
medium-grained sandstones. Associated with the sili-
cified trees are large isolated boulders of well-rounded
basalt. Bioturbation is present throughout the succes-
sion although diagenetic alteration of the sandstone
locally hinders recognition of sedimentary and bio-
genetic structures. The boundary with the overlying
Krabbedalen Formation is placed at the first distinctive
mudstone bed (Fig. 7A). The latter formation consists
of alternating beds of laminated siltstone and massive
fine-grained sandstones. Large calcareous concretions
are present throughout the succession and like the sim-
ilar concretions in the formation at Kap Dalton contain
imprints of the crab Coeloma bicarinatum in two dis-
crete horizons in the middle part. The concretions also
contain fragments of bivalves, gastropods, silicified
wood and in one case part of a fish spine.
The conglomerates of the Kap Brewster Formation
are preserved in the hanging-wall block immediately
south of a major NESW-trending normal fault. Neither
the base nor top of the formation is exposed, and the
relationships to the basalts and the other post-basaltic sedi-
ments are not known. The succession can be divided
into three distinct units with a middle sandstone unit
separating a lower and an upper conglomeratic unit
(Fig. 7B). The lower unit is approximately 40 m thick,
and consists of stacked, matrix-supported conglomerate
beds, up to 5 m thick, carrying well-rounded basaltic boul-
ders up to 1.5 m in diameter. The matrix varies in grain-
size from poorly sorted, gravelly mudstones to pebbly
sandstones. Most of the beds show a crude fining-upward
trend in clast size. The stacked conglomerates are over-
lain by poorly exposed basaltic sandstones forming the
middle unit, up to 45 m thick (Fig. 7B). Locally, expo-
sures allow recognition of ripple cross-laminated, peb-
bly sandstone beds, up to 20 cm thick. These beds are
rich in fragmented oysters and other bivalves. The sand-
stones are overlain by matrix-supported boulder con-
glomerates of the upper unit reaching up to 25 m in
Fig. 6. Eocene sandstones of the Bopladsdalen Formation exposed
at Savoia Halvø. The river bank is approximately 35 m high.
Fig. 7. Composite sedimentological profiles of the Palaeogene and
?Neogene successions at Savoia Halvø. A: Bopladsdalen and
Krabbedalen Formations measured along the river flowing through
Krabbedalen. B: Kap Brewster Formation measured at
Muslingehjørnet (see Fig. 1A for locations and Fig. 4 for legend).
Mud F M C Gr Pb
Mud F M C GrPbCbBld
Kap Brewster Fm
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 108
The pillow structures present in the basalts immedi-
ately below the Bopladsdalen Formation suggest that
the uppermost preserved lavas were extruded below
water. However, the weathered zone forming the tran-
sition to the sediments indicates a period of uplift and
subaerial exposure prior to the start of deposition. The
rounded boulders in the basal conglomerate of the
Bopladsdalen Formation were probably locally derived,
and may have been rounded either during current or
wave action. The few diagnostic structures in the over-
lying overall fining-upward succession suggest that
deposition took place in a shallow marine environ-
ment. The frequent scour-and-fill and the graded beds
present in the lower part suggest deposition close to
storm-wave base, possibly close to the mouth of a major
river system in view of the abundant tree trunks. A con-
tinued rise in the relative sea level is indicated by a
decrease in the amount of coarse-grained material and
wood, and deposition of fine-grained sand and mud of
the Krabbedalen Formation in Early Oligocene time.
The matrix-supported conglomerates of the Kap
Brewster Formation were probably deposited by grav-
ity flow processes in a marine fan-delta. The tripartite
upbuilding suggests at least two progradational pulses
leading to gradual fining-upward successions. Although
the stratigraphical data are sparse and the field rela-
tionships with the other post-basaltic sediments are
unknown, the lithological resemblance between the
fine-grained parts of the Kap Brewster Formation and
the lower part of the Bopladsdalen Formation is strik-
ing, and the two formations may represent different
parts of the same depositional basin rather than two dis-
tinct depositional events.
The 2001 season concluded the geological field work
in the pre- and early post-basaltic sedimentary succes-
sions along the Blosseville Kyst initiated in 1995 with
field work in Kangerlussuaq in the southern part (Larsen
et al. 1996, 2001). Future work will focus on the litho-,
bio- and sequence-stratigraphy. Based on the accumu-
lated knowledge, the basin evolution and uplift history
of the northern North Atlantic during Palaeogene time
will be evaluated.
Following the 2001 field work the sample database
at GEUS comprises more than 600 samples covering all
lithologies and formations from the Cretaceous
Palaeogene successions of southern and central East
Greenland. Mudstones and fine-grained sandstones
sampled for palynological work will be analysed at the
Geological Institute, University of Aarhus and at GEUS.
Based on field observations, two units at Kap Dalton
having a distinct arkosic composition will be examined
petrographically and geochemically in order to define
their provenance areas. The results of this work will be
reported elsewhere. A revised lithostratigraphy will be
proposed based on the new lithological, sedimento-
logical and palynological data.
1. The post-basaltic successions rest on a deeply weath-
ered basaltic surface that at Kap Dalton dips south-
2. At Kap Dalton the basal conglomerates consist of
alkaline basaltic pebbles most likely transported in
fluvial channels from a westerly source, whereas the
remaining part of the post-basaltic succession was
deposited in a shallow marine environment.
3. Material from at least three different source areas is
present in the successions: (1) alkaline pebbles, (2)
siliciclastic sand, (3) sand rich in reworked basaltic
material. Of these, only the latter was locally derived.
The source area of the alkaline pebbles is unknown,
whereas the siliciclastic sand was probably derived
from exhumed basement areas to the north-east.
4. Sedimentological data from Savoia Halvø suggest
that the Kap Dalton and Kap Brewster Formations
may form proximaldistal correlatives of the same
depositional system in this area. Biostratigraphic data
are, however, needed in order to confirm this inter-
The field work was part of the Survey's studies in stratigraphy,
sedimentology and basin evolution in Greenland and the north-
ern North Atlantic. The helicopter programme and general logis-
tics in East Greenland were co-ordinated by T.I. Hauge Andersson
(Danish Polar Center).
GSB191-Indhold 13/12/02 11:32 Side 109
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for the East Greenland Current during the Oligocene. Rapport
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Birkenmajer, K. & Jednorowska, A. 1997: Early Oligocene
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