Rifting of Western Laurentia at 1.38 Ga: The Hart River Sills of Yukon, Canada

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The Hart River sills are a set of mafic to intermediate intrusions that occur in northern Yukon, Canada. The largest sills are over 500 m thick and over 200 km long. New U-Pb dates of 1382.15 ± 0.39 Ma and 1382.14 ± 0.36 Ma were obtained via chemical abrasion thermal ionization mass spectrometry on zircon. Whole rock initial neodymium isotopic compositions of the Hart River sills are juvenile and have εNdi from +1.5 to +4.0. The primary mineralogy of the Hart River sills is predominated by clinopyroxene and plagioclase. Geochemical modeling indicates that the Hart River sills lie on a common liquid line of descent defined by a fractionating assemblage of plagioclase, clinopyroxene and minor olivine. The Hart River sills have rare earth element and high field strength abundances similar to normal mid-ocean ridge basalts (N-MORB) but are enriched in large ion lithophile elements. The Sm/Yb and Dy/Zr ratios indicate >8% partial melting of spinel-bearing mantle. During the emplacement of the Hart River sills, western Laurentia was juxtaposed with Australia and eastern Antarctica within the supercontinent Columbia. The degree of partial melting, similarity to N-MORB, and juvenile isotopic signature are consistent with an episode of rifting at 1.38 Ga. Coeval magmatism and intracontinental rift basins farther south on Laurentia provide additional evidence for rifting of supercontinent Columbia at 1.38 Ga.