Abstract

The Middle Proterozoic Sibley Group is a mixed clastic–carbonate red bed sequence located in the Thunder Bay – Nipigon area on the north shore of Lake Superior. The lowest unit, the Pass Lake Formation, consists of a basal paraconglomerate member, of probable alluvial debris-flow origin, overlain by 20–80 m of plane-bedded and cross-bedded quartz arenites, which were probably deposited by sheetfloods and eolian processes on alluvial outwash sand flats. The overlying Rossport Formation is dominated by red and buff dolomicritic mudstone. The association of these mudstones with relatively pure massive carbonate beds and sheetflood sandstone units is strongly suggestive of a playa lake depositional environment. Fluctuations in playa lake levels may have resulted in oscillations between carbonate-dominated and clastic-dominated sedimentation. The upper unit, the Kama Hill Formation, consists of horizontally laminated purple shales and ripple cross-laminated buff siltstones to fine sandstones. The presence of stacked "powering-down" sequences and abundant dessiccation features is suggestive of sheetflood deposition on a distal alluvial floodplain.The sequence of depositional environments suggests that the Sibley Basin formed by stretching and sagging of the Middle Proterozoic crust preceding the main period of volcanic activity along the Keweenawan Midcontinent Rift Zone. In this sense, the Sibley Group red beds represent the earliest products of Keweenawan rifting. They were not, however, deposited in a classical aulacogen or "failed arm."

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