Combined analysis of drill-hole, gravity, and magnetic data indicates that the buried Precambrian basement rocks of the Dakotas can be divided into several lithotectonic terranes. Eastern North Dakota and northeastern South Dakota are underlain by Archean gneiss. Except for the Black Hills region of South Dakota, where Archean rocks are also exposed, the western third of both Dakotas is underlain mainly by Early Proterozoic gneiss and metasedimentary rocks. Part of this region is underlain by Archean crust with an Early Proterozoic tectonic overprint. A broad transition zone of strongly overprinted Archean crust occurs between the Proterozoic rocks to the west and the Archean rocks to the east. South central South Dakota is underlain by an Early Proterozoic batholith. Early Proterozoic felsic volcanic rocks occur in southeast South Dakota. The bootheel portion of South Dakota contains a diverse assemblage of basement rocks that are partly Archean in age.Churchill Province rocks of the Trans-Hudson foldbelt project into the western Dakotas. The Thompson nickel belt and the Pickwitonei gneiss belt correlate with the western and eastern halves, respectively, of the transition between Archean and Proterozoic crust, and the Archean Glennie – Hanson Lake microcontinent of the Churchill Province likely extends into western North Dakota. Archean rocks of Minnesota extend into the eastern Dakotas, and the Wyoming craton extends to the Black Hills region. The Cheyenne foldbelt projects into southwest South Dakota. The Penokean foldbelt of Michigan and Wisconsin does not extend into the Dakotas, but it most likely extends into northwest Iowa.Tectonic evolution of the Early Proterozoic terrane in the Dakotas was most likely similar to plate tectonic models for the evolution of the Trans-Hudson foldbelt in the Churchill Province. As in the Churchill Province, the western Dakotas are underlain by Early Proterozoic rocks, but it is not known whether these rocks formed as a result of rifting and subsequent closure of a once extensive Archean crust or as a result of collision of once widely separated blocks of Archean crust.

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