Abstract

Paleozoic continental margin strata in the western Foreland Belt of the Canadian Cordillera are characterized in part by alkaline volcanic sequences, carbonatite intrusions, coarse clastic sedimentary units, and erosional unconformities. These strata also contain a record of mid-Paleozoic contractional deformation unseen in coeval passive margin strata in the eastern Foreland Belt. In order to test potential genetic links between Paleozoic alkaline igneous activity, active margin sedimentation, and deformation in the western Foreland Belt, and better understand their implications for the evolution of the Foreland Belt as a whole, we have undertaken a detailed mapping and structural study of the Aley carbonatite intrusion and its host strata in the western Foreland Belt of NE British Columbia. Our work demonstrates that carbonatite emplacement was coeval with a Late Devonian contractional nappe-forming tectonic event. Interpreting tectonism as associated with continental collision along a long-lived active margin provides the best explanation for our structural and stratigraphic observations, and suggests that the western Foreland Belt is far-travelled and exotic relative to coeval passive margin strata in the eastern Foreland Belt. Deformed alkaline-carbonatite intrusions that characterize continental suture zones in Africa may provide an analogue for the Aley carbonatite and correlative alkaline-carbonatite complexes in the western Foreland Belt.

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