Abstract

The Thompson Nickel Belt is a ca. 35 km × 400 km northeast-trending segment of the northwest margin of the Archean Superior craton in Manitoba, bounded to the west by the Paleoproterozoic Reindeer Zone. The belt was metamorphosed and deformed during the Trans-Hudson orogeny (ca. 1.9–1.7 Ga). Mineral assemblages in metamorphosed pelite, aluminous greywacke, mafic igneous rock, iron formation, and ferruginous wacke define regional metamorphic domains, separated by mineral isograds, that are subparallel to the strike of the belt and to regional-scale D3 structures. An elongate, ca. 5 km × 73 km, central zone of middle amphibolite-facies rocks is characterized by the following: muscovite-bearing mineral assemblages in pelites containing combinations of staurolite, andalusite, and sillimanite; muscovite-free, staurolite + cordierite + garnet-bearing mineral assemblages in greywackes; hornblende-bearing mineral assemblages in mafic metaigneous rocks; and grunerite-bearing mineral assemblages in iron formation. Pressure–temperature (P–T) conditions of the middle amphibolite-facies zone are ca. 550–620 °C and 3.0–5.0 kbar (1 kbar = 100 MPa), with pressure increasing to the northeast. The middle amphibolite-facies zone is bordered to the east and west by an upper amphibolite-facies zone, ca. 5 km wide on the east and ca. 3–5 km on the west. The upper amphibolite-facies zone is characterized by variably migmatitic K-feldspar + sillimanite-bearing mineral assemblages in pelites; migmatitic, garnet + cordierite + sillimanite-bearing mineral assemblages in greywackes; orthopyroxene-free, hornblende-bearing mineral assemblages in mafic rocks; and orthopyroxene-bearing mineral assemblages in iron formations. Pressure–temperature conditions of the upper amphibolite-facies zone are ca. 640–710 °C and 3.0–5.5 kbar in the southeast, and 675–755 °C and 4.5–6.0 kbar in the northwest. The outermost metamorphic zone is of the granulite facies, characterized by migmatitic garnet + cordierite + K-feldspar-bearing assemblages in pelites and greywackes, orthopyroxene + clinopyroxene ± garnet-bearing mineral assemblages in mafic rocks, and orthopyroxene + K-feldspar-bearing mineral assemblages in iron formation in which biotite is unstable. Pressure–temperature conditions of the granulite-facies zone are ca. 775–830 °C and 5.0–7.0 kbar. The P–T paths in the Thompson Nickel Belt appear to be broadly clockwise, except for some domains where they are close to isobaric. The peak P–T conditions, combined with local but widespread development of andalusite, imply relatively steep geothermal gradients of ca. 33–51 °C/km during metamorphism. Regional bathozones (domains of uniform peak-metamorphic pressure) correspond in general but not in detail with the metamorphic-facies zones. They reveal an increase in pressure towards the northeast, suggesting greater degrees of postmetamorphic exhumation in that region. Microstructural analysis suggests that peak metamorphism coincided with, and possibly outlasted, the D2 deformation event. Metamorphic isograds were deformed by D3–D4 structures. These features are consistent with a tectonic model in which the Superior craton moved in a northwest or west-northwest direction relative to the Reindeer Zone, with greatest convergence and tectonic burial occurring at the Thompson promontory.

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