A new 3-D resistivity model, estimated from inversion of magnetotelluric data, images crustal and upper-mantle structure of the Wyoming Province and adjacent areas. The Archean province is imaged as a coherent resistive domain, in sharp contrast to active tectonic domains of the western U.S. Prominent high-conductivity belts define the northern, eastern, and southern margins of the Wyoming Province and are interpreted as sutures marking the remnants of Paleoproterozoic orogens. The model results suggest the northern boundary of the Wyoming Province is located 150 km south of its traditional placement and adjacent to a composite orogen separating the Wyoming Province and Medicine Hat block. The eastern province boundary is clearly imaged along the Black Hills, whereas the western margin is obscured by Cenozoic extension and magmatism. An internal boundary within the Wyoming Province is interpreted to represent a Neoarchean suture; in stark contrast to Proterozoic sutures, though, it is not marked by a high-conductivity belt. This difference in conductivity is speculated to reflect changes in the subduction process through time. The absence of high-conductivity along Archean sutures appears to be global in nature and related to reduced continental freeboard in the Archean which limited continental weathering and the delivery of carbon-rich sediments to the seafloor. Although the entire Wyoming Province has been proposed to have undergone lithospheric modification that lessened its stability, the resistivity model suggests a thick lithospheric root remains in place except along its western margin. These results suggest that Archean cratons may be more resistant to lithospheric modification by influx of heat and fluids associated with extension and plumes than previously thought, and that metasomatism does not necessarily weaken the lithosphere and set a craton on the path to destruction.

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