There have been some inconsistencies in estimates of the effective elastic thickness of the continental lithosphere Te based upon admittance or coherence relationships between gravity and topography. This paper compares multitaper and wavelet methods to analyse the coherence between Bouguer gravity and bathymetric data over the Irish Atlantic margin. The analyses show that similar lateral Te variations can be recovered from the data, but demonstrate that the size of the data window can give rise to a significant downward bias in Te estimates. A seismically constrained 3-D gravity inversion over the Rockall basin shows the presence of surface and subsurface loads whose ratio is loosely correlated with load ratio variations generated from the wavelet coherence method. The Te and load ratio, f variations can be plausibly related to major geological structures on the margin. If the load ratio variations can be interpreted geologically, it implies that spectral based methods to estimate effective elastic thickness must incorporate subsurface loads within the underlying theoretical model.On the Irish Atlantic margin, Te is generally low (6-18 km) and is associated with a NE-SW Caledonian trend. The weakest lithosphere is in the southern Rockall basin, Porcupine bank and Porcupine basin and the strongest lithosphere is along the Rockall-Hatton region. The low Te values are consistent with results from other passive margins. The reasons for such low Te values on the Irish Atlantic margin remain unclear, but may be the consequence of Te being frozen into the lithosphere when loads were emplaced during continental breakup and temperature gradients were high. The process of sedimentation and the presence of fluids may be contributory factors. There is an indication of a geological and rheological divide between the Rockall-Hatton region and the Rockall basin, possibly associated with the Caledonian orogenic front.
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