Seismic evidence for preservation of the Archean Uchi granite-greenstone belt by crustal-scale extension

Andrew J. Calvert, Alexander R. Cruden, Andrew Hynes

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In the westernmost Superior Province of Canada, the east-west alignment of granite-greenstone belts and the adjacent, highly deformed gneiss belts led to the first proposals that plate tectonics existed before 2.5 Ga ago, with the belts thrust against one another by east-west-oriented subduction zones. Here, we present seismic reflection data, which demonstrate that in this region the present juxtaposition of the Uchi granite-greenstone belt and the North Caribou gneiss terrane occurred along a late southeast-dipping extensional shear zone that extends from the surface into the lower crust. The preservation of the Uchi belt and probably the English River metasedimentary belt is directly related to their dropping along extensional shear zones, which limited subsequent erosion. The relative lateral transport of these greenstone rocks implies that they were neither derived from the immediately underlying crust, nor preserved by vertical crustal movements as might occur in the absence of plate tectonics. Extension may have been associated with the emplacement of mantle-derived magmas at 2700 Ma, which has been linked to slab break-off or lithospheric delamination, making the extension approximately coeval with local gold mineralisation. Since crustal-scale faults can facilitate the circulation of gold-bearing fluids, we suggest that greenstone rocks preserved in the hanging walls of syn- to post-accretion extensional shear zones may preferentially host Archean lode-gold deposits. In the westernmost Superior Province, our seismic observations imply that some of the late structures in the well-developed belts defined by surface mapping arose through the collapse of a collage of laterally accreted terranes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
Issue number1-4 SPEC. ISS.
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Extension
  • Greenstone belt
  • Seismic reflection
  • Superior Province
  • Uchi

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