The Yukon–Tanana terrane in the northern Canadian Cordillera records the development of a series of mid-to late Paleozoic arc systems, punctuated by intra-arc deformation, uplift, and episodic rifting coeval with back-arc extension, built upon a metasedimentary basement of northwestern Laurentian affinity. In central Yukon, the Little Kalzas formation records the development of one of these Mississippian continental arcs, whereas the Little Salmon formation records the development of an intra-arc rift basin within a continental arc. The Little Salmon formation lower succession comprises mainly volcaniclastic rocks derived from erosion of Early Mississippian and older units, including rocks of the Little Kalzas continental arc. Above a medial limestone member, the upper succession of the Little Salmon formation includes alkali basalt, breccia, and crystal and ash tuffs in the north and predominantly epiclastic rocks interbedded with crystal and ash tuffs in the south. The alkali basalts have the geochemical characteristics of ocean-island basalts and their positive ɛNd340 (+7.3) and low 87Sr/86Sr values (0.705) suggest a primitive magma source with little or no involvement of continental crust. The transition between the northern and southern facies of the upper succession of the Little Salmon formation coincides with a northeast-trending synvolcanic fault inferred to have controlled alkali basalt eruptions and deposition of Mn-bearing exhalite in the north and basin plain sedimentation in the south. The environment of deposition of the Little Salmon formation resembles that of the modern Sumisu rift in the Izu–Bonin–Mariana arc system or the early stages of development of the Japan island-arc system.

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