Abstract

The Minnesota River Valley subprovince of the Superior Province is an Archean gneiss terrane composed internally of four crustal blocks bounded by three zones of east-northeast-trending linear geophysical anomalies. Two of the block-bounding zones are verified regional-scale shears. The geological nature of the third boundary has not been established. Potential-field geophysical models portray the boundary zones as moderately north-dipping surfaces or thin slabs similar in strike and dip to the Morris fault segment of the Great Lakes tectonic zone at the north margin of the subprovince. The central two blocks of the subprovince (Morton and Montevideo) are predominantly high-grade quartzofeldspathic gneiss, some as old as 3.6 Ga, and late-tectonic granite. The northern and southern blocks (Benson and Jeffers, respectively) are judged to contain less gneiss than the central blocks and a larger diversity of syntectonic and late-tectonic plutons. A belt of moderately metamorphosed mafic and ultramafic rocks having some attributes of a dismembered ophiolite is partly within the boundary zone between the Morton and Montevideo blocks. This and the other block boundaries are interpreted as late Archean structures that were reactivated in the Early Proterozoic. The Minnesota River Valley subprovince is interpreted as a late accretionary addition to the Superior Province. Because it was continental crust, it was not subductible when it impinged on the convergent southern margin of the Superior Craton in late Archean time, and it may have accommodated to convergent-margin stresses by dividing into blocks and shear zones capable of independent movement.

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