The crustally derived Tungsten Plutonic Suite (TPS) in the northern Canadian Cordillera is responsible for several of the world’s most important tungsten (W) resources, but the actual source rocks to these exceptionally metallogenic magmas have never been identified. Detrital zircon studies have improved our knowledge of exposed supracrustal packages in the region, such that a U-Pb study of inherited zircon cores in the TPS provides an opportunity to determine the age and provenance of the melt source to these magmas. The TPS is dominated by Neoarchean to Paleoproterozoic inherited zircons that are typical of a northwest Laurentian “cratonic” detrital zircon signature (e.g., 2.8−1.8 Ga). Cross-correlation statistical analysis of detrital zircon populations combined with whole-rock neodymium isotopic compositions indicate that mid- to late Cambrian sedimentary rocks in the Selwyn Basin are the most likely melt source for the TPS magmas. Despite the presence of prospective intrusions across the Selwyn Basin, world-class W metallogeny is limited to the narrow belt of TPS plutons in the eastern Selwyn Basin near the ancient continental margin, possibly due to depositional or structural controls on the source strata. Today, the early Phanerozoic melt source to the TPS must be present at depths of at least 15−17 km and is notably younger than suggested by current geophysical interpretations for the middle crust, requiring a reconsideration of the crustal architecture in the northern Cordillera.

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