The New Québec orogen contains two volcano-sedimentary sequences bounded by unconformities. Each sequence records a change from continental sedimentation and alkaline volcanism to marine sedimentation and tholeiitic volcanism. The first sequence records 2.17 Ga rifting and the development, by 2.14 Ga, of a passive margin along the eastern part of the Superior craton. The second sequence developed between 1.88 and 1.87 Ga in pull-apart basins that reflect precollisional dextral transtension along the continental margin. Second-sequence magmatism comprises (i) carbonatitic and lamprophyric intrusions and mildly alkaline mafic to felsic volcanic rocks; (ii) widespread intrusion of tholeiitic gabbro sills, and submarine extrusion of plagioclase glomeroporphyritic basalts and younger aphyric basalts and picrites; and (iii) late-stage, mafic to felsic volcanism and intrusion of carbonatites. Crustal thinning allowed primitive tholeiitic magmas to equilibrate at progressively lower pressures before more buoyant derivative liquids could erupt. Early primitive melts were trapped at the base of the crust and crystallized olivine and orthopyroxene with minor crustal contamination. Derivative melts, similar to transitional mid-ocean-ridge basalts, migrated upward into mid-crustal magma chambers where they became saturated in calcic plagioclase. Subsequent tapping of these magma chambers allowed plagioclase ultraphyric magmas to intrude the sedimentary pile and erupt on the sea floor. Prolonged lithospheric extension resulted in more voluminous mantle melting and eruption of picrites and basalts in the south. Primitive magmas in the north were trapped beneath thicker crust and crystallized wehrlite cumulates. Resulting basaltic melts intruded the volcano-sedimentary pile, or erupted as aphyric basalts.