Archean continental assembly in the southeastern superior province of Canada

A. J. Calvert*, J. N. Ludden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Citations (Scopus)


Between 1988 and 1993, seismic reflection and refraction surveys were acquired across the medium- to high-grade Opatica plutonic gneiss belt, the low-grade Abitibi greenstone belt, and the Pontiac metasedimentary belt, all of which form part of the late Archean Superior Province. Shallowly north dipping reflections define a structural style consistent with the northward underthrusting and accretion over about 30 Ma of various exotic terranes against a backstop provided by the Opatica belt. This rapid southward growth of the Archean protocraton was driven by at least one north dipping subduction zone as revealed by north dipping reflections that extend to 65-km depth in the upper mantle below the Opatica belt. In contrast to the mainly orthogneissic Opatica and Pontiac belts, the midcrust of the Abitibi belt comprises metasedimentary and igneous rocks, plus imbricated units of unknown affinity. Relict midcrustal accretionary complexes of substantial size, which are indicative of primary suture zones, are interpreted near the northern and southern limits of the Abitibi belt. An interpreted basal decollement and significantly older ages in the north suggest that the upper crustal greenstone rocks are allochthonous. Evidence of large-scale extension appears to be confined to the Southern Volcanic Zone of the Abitibi, which developed into a half graben as the original suture zone was reactivated in extension. Unusually high seismic P wave velocities, 7.5-8.2 kms-1, are present in the lower 8 km of the Abitibi crust, and they correlate well with a downward reduction in seismic reflectivity attributable to late modification of the deepest part of the crust. Crustal xenolith studies suggest that this process may be linked to early Proterozoic magmatism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-429
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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