The Hudson Bay Lithospheric Experiment (HuBLE): insights into Precambrian plate tectonics and the development of mantle keels
I. D. Bastow, D. W. Eaton, J.-M. Kendall, G. Helffrich, D. B. Snyder, D. A. Thompson, J. Wookey, F. A. Darbyshire, A. E. Pawlak, 2015. "The Hudson Bay Lithospheric Experiment (HuBLE): insights into Precambrian plate tectonics and the development of mantle keels", Continent Formation Through Time, N. M. W. Roberts, M. Van Kranendonk, S. Parman, S. Shirey, P. D. Clift
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Hudson Bay Lithospheric Experiment (HuBLE) was designed to understand the processes that formed Laurentia and the Hudson Bay basin within it. Receiver function analysis shows that Archaean terranes display structurally simple, uniform thickness, felsic crust. Beneath the Palaeoproterozoic Trans-Hudson Orogen (THO), thicker, more complex crust is interpreted as evidence for a secular evolution in crustal formation from non-plate-tectonic in the Palaeoarchaean to fully developed plate tectonics by the Palaeoproterozoic. Corroborating this hypothesis, anisotropy studies reveal 1.8 Ga plate-scale THO-age fabrics. Seismic tomography shows that the Proterozoic mantle has lower wavespeeds than surrounding Archaean blocks; the Laurentian keel thus formed partly in post-Archaean times. A mantle transition zone study indicates ‘normal’ temperatures beneath the Laurentian keel, so any cold mantle down-welling associated with the regional free-air gravity anomaly is probably confined to the upper mantle. Focal mechanisms from earthquakes indicate that present-day crustal stresses are influenced by glacial rebound and pre-existing faults. Ambient-noise tomography reveals a low-velocity anomaly, coincident with a previously inferred zone of crustal stretching, eliminating eclogitization of lower crustal rocks as a basin formation mechanism. Hudson Bay is an ephemeral feature, caused principally by incomplete glacial rebound. Plate stretching is the primary mechanism responsible for the formation of the basin itself.
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The continental crust is our archive of Earth history, and the store of many natural resources; however, many key questions about its formation and evolution remain debated and unresolved:
What processes are involved in the formation, differentiation and evolution of continental crust, and how have these changed throughout Earth history?
How are plate tectonics, the supercontinent cycle and mantle cooling linked with crustal evolution?
What are the rates of generation and destruction of the continental crust through time?
How representative is the preserved geological record?
A range of approaches are used to address these questions, including field-based studies, petrology and geochemistry, geophysical methods, palaeomagnetism, whole-rock and accessory-phase isotope chemistry and geochronology. Case studies range from the Eoarchaean to Phanerozoic, and cover many different cratons and orogenic belts from across the continents.