Abstract

The Cora Lake shear zone (CLsz) is a 4–6 km wide localized high-strain zone that bisects the polydeformed Athabasca granulite terrane, northern Saskatchewan. It also coincides with the geophysical trace of the Snowbird tectonic zone. The CLsz represents a major lithotectonic and thermobarometric discontinuity within the exposure of >20 000 km2 of high-pressure granulites. Most rocks have a strong mineral lineation plunging moderately to the southwest. The Northwestern subdomain (hangingwall) is characterized by ca. 2.6 Ga plutonic rocks that contain an early, subhorizontal gneissic layering (ca. 2.57 Ga) that was overprinted by large amplitude folds and a partitioned, but pervasive, axial planar, dextral, shear fabric at ca. 1.9 Ga. Thermobarometry suggests metamorphic conditions of ∼0.9 GPa and ∼750 °C during both of the phases of tectonism. The footwall is predominantly underlain by the ca. 3.3–3.0 Ga Chipman tonalite, layers of intercalated mafic and felsic granulite, and the widespread 1.9 Ga Chipman mafic dyke swarm. Early subhorizontal layering in the footwall was also folded at ca. 1.9 Ga and transposed into a steeply dipping, northeast-striking axial planar shear fabric that corresponds with the metamorphic peak (1.1–1.2 GPa and 800–900 °C). These distinct domains were juxtaposed across the CLsz, which contains a gneissic foliation striking 231° and dipping moderately to steeply to the northwest. Abundant sinistral–normal kinematic indicators are consistent with the distinctly lower pressures to the northwest. The shear zone is characterized by very fine grain sizes, despite its high-temperature assemblages including clinopyroxene and garnet. Thermobarometry from the CLsz displays progressive decompression of reworked footwall rocks with increasing mylonitization. In situ monazite geochronology indicates shearing at 1.89–1.87 Ga shortly after the granulite facies metamorphic peak. The anomalous sinistral kinematics of the CLsz, bracketed in time between periods of dextral shearing, can be explained by changing regional stresses during alternating convergent tectonics to the west and to the southeast of the Athabasca granulite terrane.

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