The Matachewan Large Igneous Province (LIP) is interpreted to have formed during the early stages of mantle plume-induced continental break-up in the early Proterozoic. When the Matachewan LIP is reconstructed to its original configuration with units from the Superior Craton and other formerly adjacent blocks (Karelia, Kola, Wyoming and Hearne), the dyke swarms, layered intrusions and flood basalts, emplaced over the lifetime of the province, form one of the most extensive magmatic provinces recognized in the geological record. New geochemical data allow, for the first time, the Matachewan LIP to be considered as a single, coherent entity and show that Matachewan LIP rocks share a common tholeiitic composition and trace element geochemistry, characterized by enrichment in the most incompatible elements and depletion in the less incompatible elements. This signature, ubiquitous in early Proterozoic continental magmatic rocks, may indicate that the Matachewan LIP formed through contamination of the primary magmas with lithospheric material or that the early Proterozoic mantle had a fundamentally different composition from the modern mantle. In addition to the radiating geometry of the dyke swarms, a plume origin for the Matachewan LIP is consistent with the geochemistry of some of the suites; these suites are used to constrain a source mantle potential temperature ofc.1500–1550°C. Comparison of these mantle potential temperatures with estimated temperatures for the early Proterozoic upper mantle indicates that they are consistent with a hot mantle plume source for the magmatism. Geochemical data from coeval intrusions suggest that the plume head was compositionally heterogeneous and sampled material from both depleted and enriched mantle. As has been documented with less ancient but similarly vast LIPs, the emplacement of the Matachewan LIP probably had a significant impact on the early Proterozoic global environment. Compilation of the best age estimates for various suites shows that the emplacement of the Matachewan LIP occurred synchronously with the Great Oxidation Event. We explore the potential for the eruption of this LIP and the emission of its associated volcanic gases to have been a driver of the irreversible oxygenation of the Earth.
Bibliographical noteThis is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Petrology following peer review. The version of record T. Jake R. Ciborowski, Andrew C. Kerr, Richard E. Ernst, Iain McDonald, Matthew J. Minifie, Stephen S. Harlan, and Ian L. Millar, The Early Proterozoic Matachewan Large Igneous Province: Geochemistry, Petrogenesis, and Implications for Earth Evolution J. Petrology (2015) 56 (8): 1459-1494 is available online at: http://petrology.oxfordjournals.org/content/56/8/1459
- large igneous province
- Great Oxidation Event