Abstract

Heat flow studies on the exposed part of the Trans-Hudson Orogen (THO) in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan allow constraints on crustal composition and lithosphere structure. The average of all heat flow values in the THO is the same as in other geological provinces of the Canadian Shield. However, where juvenile crust is exposed, heat flow is on average lower than in the Superior and Grenville provinces (37 vs. 41 mW m−2). Heat flow increases towards the surrounding Archean provinces, Rae–Hearne to the west, Sask to the south, and Superior to the east. There are strong differences in heat flow within and between the belts of the THO. The poor correlation between heat flow and heat production in the rocks exposed at the surface implies that these differences involve a large fraction of the crustal column. One new heat flow determination confirms the existence of a “cold spot” around the town of Lynn Lake in the northern part of the THO. Heat flow data in the Kisseynew and Glennie domains remain sparse, but they indicate that this low heat flow region extends as far south as the Flin Flon – Snow Lake Belt. The Lynn Lake Belt is underlain by poorly radiogenic rocks, possibly Kisseynew-type crust with oceanic basement. Northward increase in heat flow along the Thompson Belt is consistent with the view that the belt is thrust over Kisseynew-type basement only in the south. Heat flow increases southward in the Paleozoic basin because of higher heat production in basement rocks, probably from the Sask craton. We used the low heat flow regions to obtain an upper bound of 15 mW m−2 for the mantle heat flow in the THO. The effective elastic thickness of the lithosphere can be determined from the coherence between the topography and the Bouguer gravity. The effective elastic thickness is high (>40 km) thoughout the Canadian Shield and is highest in the central part of the shield, in particular in the Lynn Lake region. There seems to be a negative correlation between elastic thickness and heat flow in the central and western Canadian Shield. This indicates that, even in stable continents, the elastic thickness is largely controlled by the lithospheric temperatures that depend strongly on crustal heat generation and hence crustal structure.

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