Abstract

Seismic reflection profiles from the southern Abitibi greenstone belt reveal four first-order subdivisions: (1) Between 0 and ~4.5 s, the upper crust is weakly reflective, with prominent local to laterally extensive reflections. (2) Between ~4 and ~9 s, the crust is strongly and heterogeneously reflective with laterally continuous reflections. (3) From ~9 to ~13 s, the crust is more homogeneously reflective and displays downward decreasing reflectivity. (4) Below ~13 s (Moho?) the upper mantle is weakly reflective. The upper layer may correspond to subgreenschist–greenschist-facies supracrustal rocks cut by low-angle shear zones and intruded by regional tabular batholiths; the middle layer, to ductiley deformed amphibolite-facies gneisses, granitoids, and (or) metasediments; and the lower layer, to more homogeneously deformed granulite-facies rocks. North-dipping, low-angle reflections extending beneath both diverse supracrustal assemblages and regional batholiths may represent structural detachments upon which both the supracrustal assemblages and batholiths were imbricated and translated southward. However, the preservation of regional low-pressure metamorphic rocks and the common para-autochthonous relationships between assemblages suggest that thrust-related vertical separations and the magnitude of crustal thickening were not large. Steeply dipping regional shear zones within the greenstone belt appear to disrupt subhorizontal reflections down to ~15 km and may represent late-tectonic strains, which were progressively concentrated into linear zones during continued north–south shortening. The crustal-scale structure determined from the seismic reflection profiles, combined with surface geology, is compatible with post-2.70 Ga north–south shortening accommodated by south-directed(?) thrusting in a thermally softened mid crust and by upright folding in the upper crust. This scenario is comparable to recently proposed models for the Paleozoic, high-temperature, low-pressure Lachlan fold belt of Australia.

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