Rocks that crop out across southern Britain were exhumed from depths of as much as 2.5 km during Cenozoic time. This has been widely attributed to Paleocene regional uplift resulting from igneous underplating related to the Iceland mantle plume. Our compilation of paleothermal and compaction data reveals spatial and temporal patterns of exhumation showing little correspondence with the postulated influence of underplating, instead being dominated by kilometer-scale variations across Cenozoic compressional structures, which in several basins are demonstrably of Neogene age. We propose that crustal compression, due to plate boundary forces transmitted into the plate interior, was the major cause of Cenozoic uplift in southern Britain, witnessing a high strength crust in western Europe
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