Abstract

Late Neoarchean volcanic belts in the southern Slave Province include (1) in the east, the Cameron River–Beaulieu River belts, which are characterized by stratigraphically thin, flow-rich, classic calc-alkaline, arc-type sequences with accompanying syngenetic volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits; and (2) in the west, the Yellowknife belt, which is characterized by stratigraphically thick, structurally complex, pyroclastic-rich, adakitic, back-arc basin-type sequences, with accompanying epigenetic lode-gold deposits. The volcanic belt association bears persuasive chemical evidence of subduction-initiated magma generation. However, the greenstone belts, together with coeval matching patterned belts in Superior Province of the southern Canadian Shield, bear equally persuasive evidence of prevailing autochthonous–parautochthonous relations with respect to component stratigraphic parts and to older gneissic basement. The eastern and western volcanic belts in question are petrogenetically ascribed to a “westerly inclined” (present geography) subduction zone(s) that produced shallower (east) to deeper (west), slab-initiated, mantle wedge-generated, parent magmas. This early stage microplate tectonic process involved modest mantle subduction depths, small tectonic plates, and small sialic cratons. In the larger context of Earth’s progressively cooling, hence subduction-deepening mantle, this late Neoarchean greenstone belt development (2.73–2.66 Ga) merged with the massive end-Archean tonalite–trondhjemite–granodiorite–granite (TTGG) “bloom” (2.65–2.55 Ga), resulting in greatly enhanced craton stability. Successive subduction-deepening, plate-craton-enlarging stages, with appropriate metallotectonic response across succeeding Proterozoic time and beyond, led to modern-mode plate tectonics.

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