Abstract

Southern Superior Province of the Canadian Shield contains cratonic and basinal elements arranged in high- to low-grade metamorphic terranes such that higher grade gneissic cratons are interpreted to represent primary infrastructure to lower grade volcanic-rich (greenstone) basins. Ensimatic accumulation of volcanic components is favoured with derivation of gneissic (granitic) components by ensuing metamorphic differentiation and granitization processes. Such vertically reconstructed basin–craton complexes which are tentatively ascribed to initial Archean mantle convection, are viewed as building units of growing Precambrian shields.Globally, twenty-seven identified Archean cratons belong to three main age groups based on maximum recorded ages as follows: 3.5–3.8 Ga, 2.9–3.1 Ga, and 2.6–2.7 Ga. The three age groups that correspond to major periods of Archean orogeny may represent accretion superevents (after Moorbath).Most cratons as presently exposed display lithologic characteristics of lower superstructure–upper infrastructure of typical basin–craton complexes thereby suggesting a common degree of crustal buoyancy, hence level of erosion. Archean belts of southern Superior Province provide unique opportunity for reconstruction of the typical basin–craton complex.

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