The largely buried basement of the northern Great Plains includes suture zones and terrane boundaries that represent a significant part of the growth of Laurentia in the Proterozoic. Basement exposures in this region east of the Black Hills are rare. In southeastern South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, northeastern Nebraska, and northwestern Iowa, small outcrops of the Proterozoic Sioux Quartzite occur. In southeastern South Dakota, Corson diabase sills or dykes have intruded the quartzite. U–Pb ID–TIMS baddeleyite data from a Corson diabase sample yield an upper intercept date of 1149.4 ± 7.3 Ma, suggesting the diabase is related temporally to the Midcontinent Rift (MCR). The similarity in age of this diabase to the Inspiration sill, Pigeon River, Kipling, and Abitibi dykes suggests that early Midcontinent Rift development was not localized within the Nipigon Embayment, but extended along a roughly east–northeast zone from the Abitibi dykes to the Corson diabase. The presence of the Corson intrusions 250 km west of the MCR is hypothesized to represent a failed rift arm within the Superior craton. The greater strength of the Superior craton relative to lithosphere south of the Spirit Lake tectonic zone resulted in a shift of the southwestern rift arm in southern Minnesota along the Belle Plaine fault southeastward to the Iowa border. Alternatively, the apparent northeast trend of known occurrences of the Corson diabase is also consistent with a mantle plume centre explanation for early Midcontinent rifting.