Abstract

Over the past decade, the Kapuskasing uplift has been the subject of intense geological and geophysical investigation as Lithoprobe's window on the deep-crustal structure of the Archean Superior Province. Enigmatic since its recognition as a positive gravity anomaly in 1950, the structure has been variably interpreted as a suture, rift, transcurrent shear zone, or intracratonic thrust. Diverse studies, including geochronology, geothermobarometry, and various geophysical probes, provide a comprehensive three-dimensional image of Archean (2.75–2.50 Ga) crustal evolution and Proterozoic (2.5–1.1 Ga) cooling and uplift. The data favour an interpretation of the structure as an intracratonic uplift related to Hudsonian collision.Eastward across the southern Kapuskasing uplift, erosion levels increase from < 10 km in the Michipicoten greenstone belt, through the Wawa gneiss domain (10–20 km), into granulites (20–30 km) of the Kapuskasing structural zone, juxtaposed against the low-grade Swayze greenstone belt along the Ivanhoe Lake fault zone. Most volcanic rocks in the greenstone belts erupted in the interval 2750–2700 Ma and were thrust, folded, and cut by late plutons and transcurrent faults before 2670 Ma. Wawa gneisses include major 2750–2660 and minor 2920 Ma tonalitic components, deformed in several events including prominent late subhorizontal extensional shear zones prior to 2645 Ma. Supracrustal rocks of the Kapuskasing zone have model Nd ages of 2750–2700 Ma, metamorphic zircon ages of 2696–2584 Ma, and titanite ages of 2600–2493 Ma, reflecting deposition, intrusion, complex deformation, recrystallization, and cooling during prolonged deep-crustal residence. Postorogenic unroofing rapidly cooled shallow (10–20 km) parts of the Superior Province, but metamorphism and local deformation continued in the ductile deep crust, overlapping the time of late gold deposition in shear zones in the shallow brittle regime.Elevation of granulites, expressed geophysically as positive gravity anomalies and a west-dipping zone of high refraction velocities, dates from a major episode of transpressive faulting. Analysis of deformation effects in Matachewan (2454 Ma), Biscotasing (2167 Ma), and Kapuskasing (2040 Ma) dykes, as well as the brittle nature of fault rocks and cooling patterns of granulites, constrains the time of uplift to ca, 1.9 Ga. Approximately 27 km of shortening was accommodated through brittle upper crustal thrusting and ductile growth of an 8 km thick root in the lower crust that has been maintained by relatively cool, strong mantle lithosphere. The present configuration of the uplift results from overall dextral displacement in which the block was broken and deformed by dextral, normal, and sinistral faults, and modified by later isostatic adjustment. Seismic reflection profiles display prominent northwest-dipping reflectors believed to image lithological contacts and ductile strain zones of Archean age; the indistinct reflection character of the Ivanhoe Lake fault is probably related to its brittle nature formed through brecciation and cataclasis at temperatures < 300 °C. The style and orientation of Proterozoic structures may have been influenced by the Archean crustal configuration.

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