The late Archean Schreiber Hemlo and White River Dayohessarah greenstone belts, Superior Province: collages of oceanic plateaus, oceanic arcs, and subduction accretion complexes
The late Archean (ca. 2.80-2.68 Ga) Schreiber-Hemlo and White River-Dayohessarah greenstone belts of the Superior Province, Canada, are supracrustal lithotectonic assemblages of ultramafic to tholeiitic basalt ocean plateau sequences, and tholeiitic to calc-alkaline volcanic arc sequences, and siliciclastic turbidites, collectively intruded by arc granitoids. The belts have undergone three major phases of deformation; two probably prior to, and one during the assembly of the southern Superior Province. Imbricated lithotectonic assemblages are often disrupted by syn-accretion strike-slip faults, suggesting that strike-slip faulting was an important aspect of greenstone belt evolution. Field relations, structural characteristics, and high-precision ICP-MS trace-element data obtained for representative lithologies of the Schreiber-Hemlo and White River-Dayohessarah greenstone belts suggest that they represent collages of oceanic plateaus, juvenile oceanic island arcs, in subduction-accretion complexes. Stratigraphic relationships, structural, and geochemical data from these Archean greenstone belts are consistent with a geodynamic evolution commencing with the initiation of a subduction zone at the margins of an oceanic plateau, similar to the modern Caribbean oceanic plateau and surrounding subduction-accretion complexes. All supracrustal assemblages include both ocean plateau and island-arc geochemical characteristics. The structural and geochemical characteristics of vertically and laterally dismembered supracrustal units of the Schreiber-Hemlo and White River-Dayohessarah greenstone belts cannot be explained either by a simple tectonic juxtaposition of lithotectonic assemblages with stratified volcanic and sedimentary units, or cyclic mafic to felsic bimodal volcanism models. A combination of out-of-sequence thrusting, and orogen-parallel strike-slip faulting of accreted ocean plateaus, oceanic arcs, and trench turbidites can account for the geological and geochemical characteristics of these greenstone belts. Following accretion, all supracrustal assemblages were multiply intruded by syn- to post-tectonic high-Al, and high-La/Yb n slab-derived trondhjemite-tonalite-granodiorite (TTG) plutons. The amalgamation processes of these lithotectonic assemblages are comparable to those of Phanerozoic subduction-accretion complexes, such as the Circum-Pacific, the western North American Cordilleran, and the Altaid orogenic belts, suggesting that subduction-accretion processes significantly contributed to the growth of the continental crust in the late Archean. The absence of blueschist and eclogite facies metamorphic rocks in Archean subduction-accretion complexes may be attributed to elevated thermal gradients and shallow-angle subduction. The melting of a hotter Archean mantle at ridges and in plumes would generate relatively small, hot, and hence shallowly subducting oceanic plates, promoting high-temperature metamorphism, migmatization, and slab melting. Larger, colder, Phanerozoic plates typically subduct at a steeper angle, generating high-pressure low-temperature conditions for blueschists and eclogites in the subduction zones, and low-La/Yb n granitoids from slab dehydration, and wedge melting. Metasedimentary subprovinces in the Superior Province, such as the Quetico and English River Subprovinces, have formerly been interpreted as accretionary complexes, outboard of the greenstone belt magmatic arcs. Here the greenstone-granitoid subprovinces are interpreted as collages of subduction-accretion complexes, island arcs and oceanic plateaus amalgamated at convergent plate margins, and the neighbouring metasedimentary subprovinces as foreland basins.