Abstract

The ca. 1110–1120 Ma diabase sills of the Nipigon Embayment represent the oldest phase of the Midcontinent Rift recognized to date. The sills can be subdivided into five geochemically distinct suites: Nipigon, McIntyre, Inspiration, Shillabeer, and Jackfish. Sm–Nd, Rb–Sr, and Pb–Pb isotope data for the sills can be used to evaluate the source regions and emplacement histories of these sills. The εNdT values for all the sill suites are consistently negative (–0.5 to –6.6) but show coherent variations both within and between suites. The negative εNdT values can be interpreted as the result of contamination of a plume-related mantle source by older crustal material. The initial strontium (Sri) values (0.7032–0.7068) for the sills indicate that at least two distinct contaminants are required: (1) a source with strongly negative εNdT and lower Sri, likely Archean metasediment or granite, and (2) one with elevated Sri, likely sedimentary rocks of the Proterozoic Sibley Group. The Pb data for the Nipigon and Inspiration sills form distinct linear arrays consistent with variable contamination of a source comparable to that of other igneous suites of the Midcontinent Rift. The radiogenic isotopes preserve a complex contamination history best interpreted as the result of <5% contamination by a variety of Archean and Proterozoic sources. The ultramafic Jackfish sill shows the least evidence of contamination and is interpreted to have been emplaced along a crustal-scale fault with little interaction with crustal material. In contrast, the other sill suites have undergone complex contamination histories requiring variable crustal residence times and assimilation of material both at depth in large magma chambers and during emplacement.

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