Precise U-Pb baddeleyite dating of mafic igneous rocks provides evidence for a widespread and synchronous magmatic event that extended for >2400 km along the western margin of the Neoproterozoic Laurentian craton. U-Pb baddeleyite analyses for eight intrusions from seven localities ranging from the northern Canadian Shield to northwestern Wyoming–southwestern Montana are statistically indistinguishable and yield a composite U-Pb concordia age for this event of 780.3 ± 1.4 Ma (95% confidence level). This 780 Ma event is herein termed the Gunbarrel magmatic event. The mafic magmatism of the Gunbarrel event represents the largest mafic dike swarm yet identified along the Neoproterozoic margin of Laurentia. The origin of the mafic magmatism is not clear, but may be related to mantle-plume activity or upwelling asthenosphere leading to crustal extension accompanying initial breakup of the supercontinent Rodinia and development of the proto– Pacific Ocean. The mafic magmatism of the Gunbarrel magmatic event at 780 Ma predates the voluminous magmatism of the 723 Ma Franklin igneous event of the northwestern Canadian Shield by ∼60 m.y. The precise dating of the extensive Neoproterozoic Gunbarrel and Franklin magmatic events provides unique time markers that can ultimately be used for robust testing of Neoproterozoic continental reconstructions.

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