Long-term stability of the continental lithosphere is attained through a cumulative increase in net buoyancy and rigidity due to progressive compositional differentiation (i.e., cratonization). As stable cratons provided the nucleus for the subsequent accretionary growth and tectono-magmatic reworking that produced modern continental crust, the geodynamic processes that facilitated the stabilization of cratons are critical for understanding the evolution of Earth’s lithosphere. This study uses a portion of the Winnipeg River terrane, one of the oldest terranes of the western Superior Province, as a natural laboratory to investigate Archean crustal growth (partial melting of mantle) and reworking (partial melting of crust) and provides insights into the geodynamic processes driving mantle depletion and crustal remelting. Zircon U-Pb data obtained by laser ablation–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) from an extensive Winnipeg River terrane gneiss complex reveal six major magmatic events at ca. 3060 Ma, 2930–2920 Ma, ca. 2910 Ma, 2830–2800 Ma, 2735–2730 Ma, and ca. 2700 Ma and regional metamorphism at ca. 2900 Ma. Whole-rock geochemistry and zircon Lu-Hf and trace element data indicate that (1) the magmatism at ca. 3060 Ma and ca. 2930–2920 Ma represents reworking of the isotopically evolved components of the incipient Winnipeg River terrane at shallow depths, (2) the ca. 2910 Ma magmatism features a step-change of Hf isotopic compositions from subchondritic to suprachondritic and records the formation of new juvenile magmas and the first reworking of existing juvenile crust, and (3) the magmatism after ca. 2830 Ma largely reflects reworking of the juvenile components of the incipient Winnipeg River terrane at medium to shallow depths prior to the ca. 2700 Ma trans-crustal magmatism associated with the convergence of the Winnipeg River terrane and western Wabigoon terrane. Juvenile magmatism and crustal growth in the Winnipeg River terrane at ca. 2910 Ma are inferred to correspond with significant mantle depletion below the Winnipeg River terrane, which led to a more stable lithospheric mantle in this part of the western Superior Province. Zircon trace element data support a mantle upwelling model rather than lithosphere recycling models for the depletion of mantle at ca. 2910 Ma. This study suggests that crustal growth and mantle depletion bracketed by prolonged, episodic crustal reworking may be a fundamental characteristic of the cratonization process.

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