The Phanerozoic tectonic evolution of the Arctic is a field of escalating scientific interest. Detrital zircon provenance studies provide vital contributions to clarify the region’s tectonic evolution. Northwest Laurentia exposes a broad expanse of Proterozoic and Paleozoic sedimentary strata for which detrital zircon populations are poorly characterized. Moreover, the significance of sedimentary recycling is becoming better appreciated in light of detrital zircon studies. As more data become available, our understanding of the detrital zircon character of NW Laurentia improves, providing an increasingly reliable baseline at subcontinental resolution against which potentially allochthonous terranes, such as Arctic Alaska, can be assessed.
Sandstones of late Neoproterozoic and Cambrian age from NW Canada yield detrital zircon signatures dominated by zircon grains recycled from Proterozoic sedimentary strata. Two Neoproterozoic sandstones from the northern Mackenzie Mountains yield zircon populations sourced from the Mackenzie Mountains Supergroup. Two Lower Cambrian sandstones sourced from the Yukon stable block and deposited in Richardson Trough have zircon populations nearly identical to those of the upper Wernecke Supergroup, locally exposed across the southern Yukon stable block, where they are unconformably overlain by Cambrian strata. Comparisons with similar studies from NW Canada permit generalizations of the patterns of zircon recycling. Four provenance lineages are described that characterize Laurentia-derived successions in NW Canada.