Variable Phanerozoic thermal history in the Southern Canadian Shield: Evidence from an apatite fission track profile at the Underground Research Laboratory (URL), Manitoba

Shimon Feinstein, Barry Kohn, Kirk Osadetz, Richard Everitt, Paul O'Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Analysis of a 1.15 km deep apatite fission track (AFT) thermochronology profile at the Underground Research Laboratory (URL), in the southwestern Canadian Shield suggests two Phanerozoic heating and cooling episodes indicating significant, previously unsuspected, Phanerozoic heat flow variations. Phanerozoic temperature and heat flow variations are temporally associated with burial and erosion of the Precambrian crystalline shield and its overlying Phanerozoic successions, which are now eroded completely. Maximum Phanerozoic temperatures occurred in the late Paleozoic when the geothermal gradient is estimated to have been ~ 40-50 °C/km (compared to a present day gradient of ~ 14 ± 2 °C/km) and the sedimentary cover was ~ 800-1100 m thick. Our thermal history models, confirm regional stratigraphic relationships that suggest that the Paleozoic succession was completely eroded prior to beginning of Mesozoic sedimentation. A second heating phase occurred during Late Cretaceous-Paleogene burial when the geothermal gradient is estimated to have been ~ 20-25 °C/km and the Mesozoic and Cenozoic succession was ~ 1200 to 1400 m thick. The Phanerozoic thermal history at the URL site shows a pattern similar to that inferred previously for the epicratonic Williston Basin, the centre of which lies several 100 km to the west. This implies a common regional thermal history for cratonic rocks underlying both the basin and the currently exposed shield. It is suggested that the morphotectonic differences between the Williston Basin and the exposed shield at the URL are due to a dissimilar thermomechanical response to a common, but more complicated than previously inferred, Phanerozoic geodynamic history. The two Phanerozoic periods of variations in geothermal gradient (heat flow) were coeval with epeirogenic movements related to the deposition and erosion of sediments. These paleogeodynamic variations are tentatively attributed to far-field effects of orogenic processes occurring at the plate margin (i.e. the Antler and the Cordilleran orogenies) and the associated accumulation of cratonic seaway sedimentary sequences (Kaskaskia and Zuni sequences).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-199
Number of pages10
JournalTectonophysics
Volume475
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 21 Sep 2009

Keywords

  • Apatite fission-track thermochronology
  • Canadian Shield
  • Geodynamics
  • Phanerozoic
  • Underground Research Laboratory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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