Continental rift models have long been applied to the Archean Slave province of northwestern Canada. A reassessment of these models shows them to be incompatible with observed geological relations and suggests that contractional tectonic models may be more appropriate than extensional ones. Regions composed of different rock suites (e.g., orthogneisses vs. mafic volcanics) are separated by high-strain zones recording large displacements. It is proposed that the high-strain zones separate four distinct terranes that have been juxtaposed during collisional orogenesis. From west to east, these include the Anton terrane, interpreted as an Archean microcontinent; the Sleepy Dragon terrane, possibly an exhumed more eastern part of the Anton terrane; the Contwoyto terrane, a westward-verging fold and thrust belt containing tectonic slivers of greenstone volcanics; and the Hackett River volcanic terrane, interpreted as an Archean island arc. The Contwoyto and Hackett River terranes represent a paired accretionary prism and island-arc system that formed above an east-dipping subduction zone. These collided with the Anton microcontinent, producing a basement nappe, expressed as the Sleepy Dragon terrane, during the main accretion event within the Slave province. The whole tectonic assemblage was intruded by late-kinematic to postkinematic granitoids.

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