Abstract

The ∼2800-km-long Snowbird tectonic zone is a well-recognized but still enigmatic feature in the western Canadian Shield. It has been interpreted as a Paleoproterozoic continental suture or an Archean strike-slip fault system, but here we suggest that the distinctive geometry of the central Snowbird tectonic zone is primarily due to the interaction of crosscutting Paleoproterozoic intracontinental thrust and strike-slip shear zones having a length of hundreds of kilometers. First, a major zone of thrust-sense shearing, coeval with early continent-continent collision between the Superior and western Churchill provinces, accommodated uplift of a large exposure of granulite facies lower continental crust. Younger strike-slip shear zones, perhaps analogous to Asian fault systems behind the Himalayan orogen, offset the thrust zone. Thus, the current geometry and distribution of deep-crustal rocks in this region represent a relatively late stage in the tectonic evolution of the western Churchill province rather than an accretionary one. Earlier structures oriented at a high angle to the Snowbird tectonic zone may record the fundamental accretionary history in this part of Laurentia.

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