Lithoprobe line 55, in the Grenville Province of eastern Quebec, provides unusually good control on the three-dimensional (3-D) geometry and structural relationships among the major lithological units there. Archean basement underlies the exposed Proterozoic rocks, along the entire seismic line, and there is a lateral ramp in this basement immediately behind a lobate stack of thrust slices of high-pressure metamorphic rocks comprising the Manicouagan Imbricate Zone (MIZ). Integration of the 3-D geometry with P–T and geochronological data allows derivation of a tectonic model for the region. The MIZ was buried to depths >60 km at 1050 Ma. Preservation of its high-pressure assemblages, and the absence of metamorphism at 990 Ma, which is characteristic of lower pressure metamorphic rocks that tectonically overlie them, indicates the MIZ rocks were rapidly unroofed, early in the tectonic history. There were two discrete pulses of crustal thickening during the Grenvillian Orogeny in this region. The first, involving imbrication of Labradorian and Pinwarian rocks that comprised part of southeast Laurentia, culminated in the Ottawan pulse at ca. 1050 Ma, and produced the high-pressure metamorphism of the MIZ. Its effects were rapidly reversed, with extrusion of the MIZ rocks to shallow crustal levels at ca. 1020 Ma. The crust was again thickened, with the Moho subsiding to depths >60 km, in the Rigolet pulse at ca. 990 Ma. The site of extrusion of the MIZ was probably controlled by the subsurface lateral ramp. High geothermal gradients indicate that extrusion may have been aided by lithospheric delamination in the crustal-thickening zone.

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