Abstract

The tectonic–stratigraphic evolution of Vancouver Island, a part of the Insular Belt, is reviewed as it relates to the other major tectonic belts recognized in the western Cordillera of Canada and the adjacent United States. The Pacific Belt, recognized south of the international border, is also identified in the west and south of the island. Oldest rocks of the Insular Belt are a late Paleozoic volcanic arc terrane and a crystalline 'basement' that is probably pre-Devonian. A thick Upper Triassic succession of tholeiitic pillow lavas and flows, overlain by carbonate–clastic sediments, rests in part on the Paleozoic. Elsewhere the tholeiite may represent oceanic floor, perhaps formed when the Insular Belt was fragmented and rifted off the continental margin far to the south. Above it the Early Jurassic volcanic arc with related batholiths may have been aligned with a similar terrane in the Intermontane Belt before the two belts assumed parallel positions in late Mesozoic time. An Upper Jurassic – Lower Cretaceous westward thickening clastic wedge indicates uplift and erosion of the volcanic arc in late Mesozoic time. Further west the 'inner Pacific Belt' of Jura-Cretaceous elastics and chert represent slope and trench deposits that have been deformed to mélange or converted to schist. They are coeval and homologous to Franciscan and Chugach Terranes and probably mark the late Mesozoic trench and subduction zone along the continental margin. The Coast Plutonic Belt represents the related volcanic arc, and pre-Cretaceous Insular Belt rocks, unconformably overlain by Cretaceous clastic sediments, represent the arc–trench gap and fore-arc basin. Until Late Cretaceous time convergence of the Insular and Pacific Belts occurred along San Juan Fault. In early Tertiary time Eocene oceanic basalt (Outer Pacific Belt) and Jura-Cretaceous metasediments (Inner Pacific Belt) converged by under-thrusting and (or) strike–slip faulting along Leech River Fault. In Late Eocene time the trench and subduction zone shifted westward to the present core zone of the Olympic Mountains and shifted again in Miocene time to its present position.

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