Haida Gwaii (British Columbia, Canada): a Phanerozoic analogue of a subduction-unrelated Archean greenstone belt

J. Gregory Shellnutt*, Jaroslav Dostal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the formation and evolution of Precambrian greenstone belts is hampered by gaps in the rock record and the uncertainty of the tectonic regime that was operating at the time. Thus identifying a modern analogue of a Precambrian greenstone belt can be problematic. In this paper we present geological, geochemical and petrological evidence outlining the case for Haida Gwaii (British Columbia, Canada) as a modern example of a greenstone belt. Haida Gwaii is comprised of two rift-related volcano-sedimentary sequences. The older (Early Triassic) Karmutsen volcanic sequence consists of subaqueous ultramafic-mafic volcanic rocks that are capped by marine carbonate and siliciclastic rocks. The younger (Paleogene) Masset bimodal volcanic sequence consists of tholeiitic and calc-alkaline basalt along with calc-alkaline silicic volcanic and intrusive rocks that are capped by epiclastic sandstones. The Karmutsen and Masset volcanic rocks have indistinguishable Sr-Nd-Pb isotopes demonstrating they were derived from a similar mantle source. Some of the Masset calc-alkaline rocks are compositionally similar to magnesian andesites (SiO 2 = 56–64 wt%; Mg# = 0.50–0.64) that are typical of subduction-related Archean greenstone belts. We show that the calc-alkaline signature observed in the bimodal sequence of the Masset Formation is likely due to fractional crystallization of a tholeiitic parental magma under relatively oxidizing (ΔFMQ + 0.7) conditions indicating that a calc-alkaline signature is not prima facie evidence of a subduction setting. Given the geological and geochemical evidence, Haida Gwaii represents one of the best analogues of a modern subduction-unrelated Archean greenstone belt.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3251
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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