The proximity and positions of cratons constituting the western Canadian Shield prior to and during the Rhyacian Period (2.30–2.05 Ga) are poorly known. In the absence of paleomagnetic data, stratigraphic correlation and detrital zircon isotopic data from sedimentary successions can be used to constrain relative craton positions during their time of deposition. The Murmac Bay Group, a multiply deformed metasedimentary succession located on the Rae craton margin in Canada, provides an opportunity to test hypotheses regarding its nearest cratonic neighbors during deposition. The polydeformed nature of the Murmac Bay Group, however, presents challenges in determining detailed stratigraphic relationships in the upper succession, which lacks distinct marker beds. Provenance analysis from detrital zircon geochronology provides one strategy for overcoming these challenges. Previous U-Pb geochronology indicates the lower succession was deposited <2.32 Ga, and the upper succession was deposited between <2.17 Ga and >1.94 Ga. We provide new U-Pb detrital zircon ages for the upper succession, including a new maximum depositional age at <2.00 Ga. We integrate our new data with published detrital zircon ages and compare them with published and public-domain igneous crystallization ages stored within a large geochronological database to identify potential provenance locations. While there is no known local source for the ca. 2.17 Ga age population, potential 2.17 Ga sources are found on the neighboring Slave craton and Buffalo Head–Chinchaga domain. Geographically, sources for the remaining dominant age populations (e.g., 2.33 Ga) exist either locally, or between the potential sources for ca. 2.17 Ga zircon grains and our study area. Our results support the interpretation that the Rae and Slave cratons were already amalgamated during upper Murmac Bay Group deposition (<2.00 to >1.94 Ga). This provides an important constraint on the timing of Rae-Slave amalgamation.
- Received 7 March 2016.
- Revision received 11 July 2016.
- Accepted 4 August 2016.
- © Geological Society of America