A Sedimentary Overlap Assemblage Links Australia to Northwestern Laurentia at 1.6 Ga

Document Type


Publication Date



The Columbia (Nuna) supercontinent existed from approximately 1.9 Ga to 1.3 Ga. Laurentia was part of Columbia, and the western edge of Laurentia (current coordinates) was likely proximal to a large landmass during parts of this interval. Here, we present detrital zircon ages of a Paleoproterozoic sedimentary succession in northern Yukon, Canada, that bear on the evolution of Columbia. The sedimentary succession is preserved as clasts within 1.60 Ga hydrothermal megabreccias. Analyses of detrital zircon reveal abundant 1.78–1.68 Ga zircon with evolved Hf isotope values (−16.1 < εHf(t) < +1.4). Sm-Nd isotope analysis on clasts yields εNdi from −5.3 to −5.5 and model ages from 2.4 to 2.2 Ga. The detrital zircon age distribution is strikingly similar to those from sedimentary megaclasts in the ca. 1.59 Ga Olympic Dam Breccia Complex on the Gawler Craton of Australia. The whole rock Sm-Nd ratios are consistent with derivation from the Gawler Craton. We propose that the sedimentary material contained in both breccia complexes was derived from an overlap assemblage deposited on Australia and Laurentia at ca. 1.6 Ga. This model supports a previous hypothesis that the Gawler Craton was connected to northwestern Laurentia at ca. 1.6 Ga, and that these regions shared a single hydrothermal province that is recognized in northwestern Laurentia as the Wernecke Breccia and in the Gawler Craton as the Olympic Dam Breccia Complex and associated IOCG deposits. The sedimentary overlap succession was deposited after collision between Australia and Laurentia. Australia was subsequently translated southward along the Laurentian margin, placing the Gawler Craton next to southwestern Laurentia and the Mt. Isa Inlier adjacent to northwestern Laurentia by 1.5 Ga.


For a complete list of authors, please see article.