The southern volcanic zone (SVZ) of the Late Archean Abitibi belt of the Superior province of Canada is dominated by komatiitic to tholeiitic volcanic plateaus and large, bimodal, mafic-felsic volcanic centers. These volcanic rocks were erupted between about 2717 and 2700 Ma in a series of rift basins that formed as a result of wrench-fault tectonics. They overlie and juxtapose a volcano-plutonic assemblage characterized in the northern Abitibi belt. The age of the assemblage is about 2720 Ma or older, and it comprises basaltic to andesitic and dacitic subaqueous massive volcanics, cored by comagmatic sills and layered anorthositic complexes and overlain by felsic pyroclastic rocks that were comagmatic with the emplacement of tonalitic plutons at 2717 ± 2 Ma.

A tectonic model is proposed in which the SVZ formed in a series of rift basins that dissected an earlier formed volcanic arc. Comparisons are made with rift environments that have been postulated for Phanerozoic areas such as the Hokuroko basin of Japan, the Taupo volcanic zone of New Zealand, and the Sumatra and Nicaragua arcs.

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