Abstract

The Mesoproterozoic 1108–1105 Ma Osler Group, a 3 km thick succession of basaltic flows and sedimentary units on the north shore of Lake Superior, is among the oldest expressions of the Midcontinent Rift. Basal sediments of the Simpson Island Formation (new name) deposited by braided fluvial systems record westward transport of debris eroded from local Archean and Proterozoic rock units. Strata deposited by this fluvial system are intercalated with, and overlain by, ocean-island basalt (OIB)-like basalts, which become increasingly contaminated up section (εNd(1100Ma) = +0.3 to –5.3). The light rare-earth element (LREE) enriched (La/Smn = 1.5–3.9) and heavy REE (HREE) fractionated (Gd/Ybn = 1.5–3.7) subaerial flows are divisible into two units that correlate with other sections of the Osler Group to the east, but simple correlations with more distant sequences are difficult. The volcanic rock dominated portion of the succession is overlain by a thin (25 m thick) conglomerate–sandstone assemblage representing southeast progradation of an alluvial fan in a semi-arid climatic setting. Clast lithologies and geochemistry indicate no extra-rift detritus was delivered from the hinterland of the fan. Various lines of evidence in both volcanic and sedimentary rocks support a scenario where early, pre-1108 Ma, subsidence along a north–south axis from the western arm of the rift to the Nipigon Embayment was replaced by subsidence along the east–west rift axis between 1108 and 1105 Ma.

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