Abstract

Understanding the development of island arcs that accreted to the North American craton is critical to deciphering the complex geological history of the Canadian Cordillera. In the case of the Hazelton arc (part of the Stikine terrane, or Stikinia) in northwestern British Columbia, understanding arc evolution also bears on the formation of spatially associated porphyry Cu–Au, epithermal, and volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits. The Hazelton Group is a regionally extensive, long-lived, and exceptionally thick Upper Triassic to Middle Jurassic volcano-sedimentary succession considered to record a successor arc that was built upon the Paleozoic and Triassic Stikine and Stuhini arcs. In central Stikinia, near Terrace, British Columbia, the lower Hazelton Group (Telkwa Formation) comprises three volcanic-intrusive complexes (Mt. Henderson, Mt. O’Brien, and Kitselas) that, at their thickest, constitute almost 16 km of volcanic stratigraphy. Basal Telkwa Formation conglomerates and volcanic rocks were deposited unconformably on Triassic and Paleozoic arc-related basement. New U–Pb zircon ages indicate that volcanism initiated by ca. 204 Ma (latest Triassic). Detrital zircon populations from the basal conglomerate contain abundant 205–233 Ma zircons, derived from regional unroofing of older Triassic intrusions. Eleven kilometres higher in the section, ca. 194 Ma, rhyolites show that arc construction continued for >10 million years. Strata of the Nilkitkwa Formation (upper Hazelton Group) with a U–Pb zircon age of 178.90 ± 0.28 Ma represent waning island-arc volcanism. Telkwa Formation volcanic rocks have bimodal silica concentrations ranging from 48.1 to 62.8 wt.% and 72.3 to 79.0 wt.% and display characteristics of subduction-related magmatism (i.e., calc-alkaline differentiation with low Nb and Ti and high Th concentrations). Mafic to intermediate rocks form a differentiated suite that ranges from high-Al basalt to medium- to high-K andesite. They were derived from hydrous melting of isotopically juvenile spinel lherzolite in the mantle wedge and from subsequent fractional crystallization. Compared to basalts and andesites (εNd = +5 to +5.5), rhyolites have higher positive εNd values (+5.9 to +6.0) and overlapping incompatible element concentrations, indicating that they are not part of the same differentiation suite. Rather, the rhyolites formed from anatexis of arc crust, probably caused by magmatic underplating of the crust. This study documents a temporal and spatial co-occurrence of Hazelton Group volcanic rocks with a belt of economic Cu–Au porphyry deposits (ca. 205–195 Ma) throughout northwestern Stikinia. The coeval relationship is attributed to crustal underplating and intra-arc extension associated with slab rollback during renewed or reconfigured subduction beneath Stikinia, following the demise of the Stuhini arc in the Late Norian.

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