Abstract

Between Vendom Fiord and Makinson Inlet on southern Ellesmere Island, Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Nunavut, isolated and fault-bounded Early Tertiary basins are exposed. The basin deposits are Paleocene to Eocene in age and overlie unconformably folded Ordovician and Silurian carbonates of the Paleozoic Franklinian Basin that were affected by intense, pre-Paleocene weathering and karstification in places. The Tertiary sediments consist mainly of dark unconsolidated sand and silt and are interbedded with many centimetre- to metre-thick coal seams. In several places, round orange and red “spots” occur within the dark grey Tertiary basin fills and are clustered on top of the dark grey Tertiary occurrences. The “spots” are up to 100 m in diameter and consist of consolidated burnt shards of clay or clinker. In the centre of the reddish “spots,” dark, massive, and partly high-magnetic lava- or slag-like rocks are poorly exposed as masses that are a decimetre or less in scale. These rocks were investigated using thin section studies, as well as X-ray diffraction and X-ray flourescence analyses. The melt rocks are composed of glass, cordierite-group minerals, hematite, magnetite, tridymite, mullite, and cristobalite. They represent paralavas resulting from subsurface combustion of the Tertiary coal seams under conditions similar to those in a blast furnace. An origin by anthropogenic activity or a volcanic origin can be ruled out.

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