Abstract

The Plains Sill is a thick diabase–granophyre body that intruded the wet sediments of the Middle Proterozoic Prichard Formation of the Belt–Purcell Supergroup. The diabase is a high-iron tholeiite geochemically compatible with large-volume mantle melting in an intracratonic rift environment. Evidence of emplacement into wet sediments includes thick zones of homogenized granosediments adjacent to the sill, soft-sediment deformation at sill contacts, and sedimentary ovoid structures possibly formed by local fluidization of sediments. Utilizing sediment pore water and driven by heat from the sill, the diabase was metamorphosed during crystallization and cooling, leaving hornblende as the dominant mafic phase. Continued retrograde alteration resulted in overgrowths of secondary hornblende and variable alteration of plagioclase to epidote. A miarolitic granophyre layer, up to 150 m thick, caps the diabase and appears igneous in origin. Locally the granophyre is anomalously thick, perhaps reflecting updip migration of granophyric fluid where the Plains Sill cuts upsection through the Prichard Formation stratigraphy.

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