The Hudson Bay Lithospheric Experiment (HuBLE): Insights into Precambrian Plate Tectonics and the Development of Mantle Keels

I. D. Bastow, D. W. Eaton, J.-M. Kendall, G. Helffrich, D. B. Snyder, D. A. Thompson, J. Wookey, F. A. Darbyshire, A. E. Pawlak

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Hudson Bay Lithospheric Experiment (HuBLE) was designed to understand the processes that formed Laurentia and the Hudson Bay basin within it. Receiver function analysis shows that Archaean terranes display structurally simple, uniform thickness, felsic crust. Beneath the Palaeoproterozoic Trans-Hudson Orogen (THO), thicker, more complex crust is interpreted as evidence for a secular evolution in crustal formation from non-plate-tectonic in the Palaeoarchaean to fully developed plate tectonics by the Palaeoproterozoic. Corroborating this hypothesis, anisotropy studies reveal 1.8 Ga plate-scale THO-age fabrics. Seismic tomography shows that the Proterozoic mantle has lower wavespeeds than surrounding Archaean blocks; the Laurentian keel thus formed partly in post-Archaean times. A mantle transition zone study indicates ‘normal’ temperatures beneath the Laurentian keel, so any cold mantle down-welling associated with the regional free-air gravity anomaly is probably confined to the upper mantle. Focal mechanisms from earthquakes indicate that present-day crustal stresses are influenced by glacial rebound and pre-existing faults. Ambient-noise tomography reveals a low-velocity anomaly, coincident with a previously inferred zone of crustal stretching, eliminating eclogitization of lower crustal rocks as a basin formation mechanism. Hudson Bay is an ephemeral feature, caused principally by incomplete glacial rebound. Plate stretching is the primary mechanism responsible for the formation of the basin itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-67
Number of pages27
JournalGeological Society Special Publications
Early online date27 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

The UK component of HuBLE was supported by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) grant NE/F007337/1, with financial and logistical support from the Geological Survey of Canada, Canada–Nunavut Geoscience Office, SEIS-UK (the seismic node of NERC), and First Nations communities of Nunavut. J. Beauchesne and J. Kendall provided invaluable assistance in the field. Discussions with M. St-Onge, T. Skulski, D. Corrigan and M. Sanborne-Barrie were helpful for interpretation of the data. D. Eaton and F. A. Darbyshire acknowledge the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Four stations on the Belcher Islands and northern Quebec were installed by the University of Western Ontario and funded through a grant to D. Eaton (UWO Academic Development Fund). I. Bastow is funded by the Leverhulme Trust. This is Natural Resources Canada Contribution 20130084 to its Geomapping for Energy and Minerals Program. This work has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Unions Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant agreement no. 240473 ‘CoMITAC’.


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