The Dunbar dome in northeastern Wisconsin is a critical structural feature in the early Proterozoic Penokean orogen. It provides exposures of gneisses (Dunbar Gneiss) that structurally underlie the voluminous metavolcanic rocks of northeastern Wisconsin, and exposures of abundant granitoid rocks ranging from tonalite to granite. The granitoid rocks cut both the gneisses in the core and the supracrustal (cover) metavolcanic rocks and were emplaced essentially along the core-cover boundary. The Dunbar Gneiss is calc-alkaline and was derived from volcanic and intrusive rocks of intermediate composition. The various intrusive rocks have calcic, calc-alkaline, and alkali to alkali-calcic compositions, and they progress with time to more SiO2 and K2-rich compositions. U-Pb zircon ages indicate that accumulation of the layered rocks in the core and cover, deformation and metamorphism, and intrusion of the granitoid rocks spanned a relatively short time, ∼1865–1835 Ma.
We interpret the dome as being a large-scale, fold-interference structure resulting from polydeformation modified by diapirism. Northeast-oriented folds (F3) and a related mylonitic foliation (S3), nearly confined to the dome, are superposed on northwest-oriented folds (F2) that developed during regional deformation. In the core-cover boundary, these structures are obliterated by a zone of intense deformation—a mylonitic foliation and a steeply plunging stretching lineation—as much as 500 m wide, which we interpret as resulting from diapirism. Metamorphic zoning is concentric: amphibolite facies in inner parts of the mantle and greenschist facies in the outer part of the mantle.
The Wisconsin magmatic terrane, as represented by the rocks in the Dunbar dome, differs from the epicratonic, early Proterozoic sedimentary-volcanic sequence (Marquette Range Supergroup) in Michigan, to the north, in stratigraphy, structure, and volume and composition of igneous rocks. Whereas the basalts in northern Michigan are compositionally similar to continental rift basalts, the volcanic rocks in the Dunbar dome have over-all island-arc compositional affinities. The over-all calc-alkaline compositions of the intrusive rocks are similar to those in magmatic arcs formed at convergent plate-margin settings. Accordingly, we interpret the Wisconsin magmatic terrane as an oceanic-arc complex that was sutured to the North American continent during development of the Penokean orogen. Similar interpretations based on broad regional observations have been proposed previously.