Abstract

U-Pb ages have been determined on 250 detrital zircon grains from Neoproterozoic through Permian miogeoclinal strata in British Columbia and Alberta. Most of the grains in these strata are >1.75 Ga and are interpreted to have been derived from nearby basement provinces (although most grains were probably cycled though one or more sedimentary units prior to final deposition). Important exceptions are Ordovician sandstones that contain grains derived from the Peace River arch, and upper Paleozoic strata with detrital zircons derived from the Franklinian orogen, Salmon River arch (northwestern U.S.A.), and (or) Grenville orogen. These provenance changes resulted in average detrital zircon ages that become progressively younger with time, and may also be reflected by previously reported shifts in the Nd isotopic signature of miogeoclinal strata. In addition to the grains that have identifiable sources, grains of ~1030, ~1053, 1750-1774, and 2344-2464 Ma are common in our samples, but igneous rocks of these ages have not been recognized in the western Canadian Shield. We speculate that unrecognized plutons of these ages may be present beneath strata of the western Canada sedimentary basin. Collectively, our data provide a record of the ages of detrital zircons that accumulated along the Canadian Cordilleran margin during much of Paleozoic time. Comparisons between this reference and the ages of detrital zircons in strata of potentially displaced outboard terranes may help reconstruct the paleogeography and accretionary history of the Cordilleran orogen.

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