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The evolution of many modern intra-oceanic and continental arc systems is exemplified by cycles of arc construction, rifting, and separation of remnant and active arcs by a backarc basin floored by oceanic crust. Rifted arc complexes and backarc basins are inherently subductable, and hence only a fragmentary record of rifting and arc construction is preserved in the ancient record. In this contribution, we synthesize available geochronological, geochemical, isotopic, and stratigraphic data in order to discuss the evolution of the Cambrian to Ordovician Penobscot-Victoria Arc, which developed on the leading edge of Ganderia, a peri-Gondwanan microcontinent. Although the Penobscot and Victoria stages of arc-backarc development occurred in a predominantly extensional suprasubduction-zone setting, they each display a distinctly different character of magmatism and sedimentation. These stages are separated by an orogenic episode marked by the obduction of backarc ophiolites onto the Ganderian passive margin. The Cambrian to Lower Ordovician Penobscot Arc is characterized by the continuous migration of the magmatic front and development of multiple volcanically active rift zones. The rift basins display a variety of characteristics, including bimodal calc-alkaline magmatism, felsic-dominated incipient rift magmatism, and formation of rifts floored by tholeiitic to boninitic suprasubduction-zone ophiolite. Comparison to modern analogues suggests that part of the Penobscot Arc area developed in a similar setting to the volcanically active Havre Trough and Taupo volcanic zone. In contrast, the Victoria Arc phase was dominated by multiple epiclastic rich, volcano-sedimentary basins overlying tectonically modified Penobscot basement. Igneous rocks are sparse, typified by calc-alkaline felsic volcanic and tholeiitic to alkaline backarc basin basalts. The change in character of the backarc volcanic rocks over time is interpreted to reflect multiple tectonic factors, including the variation of slab retreat rate, degree of extension in the arc (Cambrian Penobscot Arc) versus the backarc basin (Ordovician Exploits-Tetagouche backarc), reactivation of inverted Penobscot extensional faults during Middle Ordovician rifting, and/or depletion of fertile components by the Middle Ordovician.

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