Abstract

The Paleoproterozoic southeastern Churchill Province (SECP) is located in the northeastern Canadian Shield of Labrador and Quebec. The SECP formed through the oblique collisions of the Archean Nain and Superior cratons with a third intervening Archean block, the core zone. The belt has a tripartite structure, comprising the Torngat Orogen (TO) formed by Nain craton – core zone collision in the east, the core zone in the centre, and the New Quebec Orogen (NQO) formed by Superior craton – core zone collision in the west. The SECP thus records transpressional development on the flanks of the Superior and Nain cratons as they indented northwards to form the larger Trans-Hudson – Nagssugtoqidian orogenic belt to the north. Principal stages of tectonic development were (1) 2.2–2.1 Ga crustal rifting of Nain and Superior cratons; (2) ca. 1.9 Ga subduction under eastern Nain craton; (3) ca. 1.87–1.85 Ga collision of Nain craton and core zone to form the TO; (4) 1.845–1.820 Ga sinistral transpression in the TO, and subduction under the western core zone; and (5) 1.82–1.77 Ga collision of Superior craton and core zone to form the NQO, in association with dextral transpression. Crustal-scale cross sections of the SECP have been developed from reflection and refraction seismic data. The western part of the NQO is dominantly west-vergent and associated with an imbricate thick-skinned thrust stack that ramps from the base of the crust. The core zone is characterized by a 35–40 km thick crust and pervasive east-dipping fabrics related to westerly thrusting. The TO is a narrow, doubly vergent belt, associated with a 48 km thick crust that forms a crustal root with a Moho relief of 12 km. The root is interpreted to result from attempted subduction of the core zone under the Nain craton, possibly as a result of mid-crustal wedging by the Nain craton. The TO was the site of intense convergence that resulted in excision of juvenile crust, possibly including tectonic removal of the axial magmatic arc. As a result, the middle to lower levels of the SECP consist largely of refractory Archean lithosphere. This may account for the lack of widespread post-collisional plutonism in the SECP and the preservation of the TO root.

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