Abstract

Preliminary paleomagnetic data are reported for Archean metavolcanics, felsic and mafic intrusives, gneisses, and iron formations from the Quetico, Shebandowan, and Wabigoon belts in the western Superior Structural Province. Eleven of the 23 formations sampled have been studied in detail using stepwise alternating-field demagnetization and, in some cases, thermal demagnetization. Two characteristic components of magnetization are revealed. One is widespread in occurrence and reasonably well grouped (D = 4.5°, I = + 55.7°, k = 17.9, α95 = 5.4°, N = 40 samples for the Shelley Lake granite for example). It is a regional magnetic overprint due to the Kenoran orogeny, acquired, according to the position of its paleopole (71.7°E, 77.3°N, δp = 5.5°, δm = 8 °for the Shelley Lake granite) on the Laurentian apparent polar wander path and to independent radiometric evidence, about −2600 Ma. The second magnetic component is spotty in occurrence, more prevalent in the Wabigoon belt than elsewhere, and everywhere rather scattered. The only fully reliable determination is D = 66.0°, I = −5.1 °(k = 10.2, α95 = 15°, N = 11 samples) for the Wabigoon gabbro. The corresponding paleopole is either 17.8°E, 13.1°N (δp = 7.5°, δm = 15°) falling at about −2800 Ma on the apparent polar wander path or the antipole of this direction, dating between −1350 and −1250 Ma. The younger date, implying a late ProterQzoic metamorphic event in the region, is more likely than the older age, which would require that the magnetization be primary or a pre-Kenoran overprint. The metamorphism seems to have occurred too early to have been caused by igneous activity ca. 1100 Ma in the nearby Keweenawan basin. About −2600 Ma, the region was in its present orientation, but at a latitude of 20 to 35°N and probably drifting northward. About −1250 Ma, the region was equatorial but rotated 90°, so that presently east–west trending greenstone belts were north–south. It is possible, but un-proven, that a paleoocean existed between the Wabigoon subprovince and the other belts about −1250 Ma, the Wabigoon region having since moved > 500 km westward (present-day direction) to its present location.

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