Abstract

The Neoarchean Pukaskwa batholith consists of pre-, syn-, and post-tectonic phases emplaced over an interval of 50 million years. Pre-tectonic phases are broadly synvolcanic and have a high-Al tonalite–trondhjemite–granodiorite (TTG) affinity interpreted to reflect derivation by partial melting of basaltic crust at lower crustal or upper mantle depths. Minor syn-tectonic phases slightly post-date volcanism and have geochemical characteristics suggesting some involvement or interaction with an ultramafic (mantle) source component. Magmatic emplacement of pre- and syn-tectonic phases occurred in the midcrust at paleopressures of 550–600 MPa and these components of the batholith are thought to be representative of the midcrust underlying greenstone belts during their development. Subsequent to emplacement of the syntectonic phases, and likely at approximately 2680 Ma, the Pukaskwa batholith was uplifted as a structural dome relative to flanking greenstone belts synchronously with ongoing regional sinistral transpressive deformation. The driving force for vertical tectonism is interpreted to be density inversion (Rayleigh–Taylor-type instabilities) involving denser greenstone belts and underlying felsic plutonic crust. The trigger for initiation of this process is interpreted to be an abrupt change in the rheology of the midcrust attributed to introduction of heat from the mantle attendant with slab breakoff or lithospheric delamination following the cessation of subduction. This process also led to partial melting of the intermediate to felsic midcrust generating post-tectonic granitic phases at approximately 2667 Ma. We propose that late density inversion-driven vertical tectonics is an inevitable consequence of horizontal (plate) tectonic processes associated with greenstone belt development within the Superior Province.

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