We propose that the late Paleoproterozoic igneous and deformational history preserved in the northern midcontinent United States can be explained by a change in subduction-polarity from geon 18 south-dipping subduction during Penokean accretion to geon 17 north-dipping subduction as convergence continued after Penokean orogenesis. New U-Pb zircon ages indicate that late to post-Penokean magmatism occurred at ca. 1800, 1775, and 1750 Ma and generally migrated southeastward across the newly accreted Penokean terrane. We suggest that geon 17 Yavapai slab rollback caused continental arc magmatism to step southeastward between 1800 and 1750 Ma. As the slab steepened, reduced compressional stresses and magma-induced thermal weakening allowed for collapse of the overthickened portions of the Penokean crust. Postcollapse crustal stabilization (the 1750–1650 Ma Baraboo interval) was followed by geon 16 Mazatzal arc accretion further south. The 1900–1600 Ma tectonic history of the north-central United States, not surprisingly, records events related to the southward growth and tectonic development of the southern Laurentian margin.
New and published 40Ar/39Ar mineral ages delineate the northern and western extent of geon 16 Mazatzal deformation. Interestingly, only little exhumed crust intruded by a small volume of shallow-level ca. 1750 Ma plutons (and associated rhyolites) was deformed significantly during geon 16. In contrast, more deeply exhumed crust and crust pervasively invaded by a large volume of post-Penokean magma (i.e., East-Central Minnesota Batholith) were largely unaffected by Mazatzal deformation and reheating. We suggest that posttectonic intrusions and crustal thinning were an important step in strengthening and stabilizing the crust in the southern Lake Superior region.