Rapid Emplacement of Massive Duluth Complex Intrusions within the North American Midcontinent Rift

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The Duluth Complex (Minnesota, USA) is one of the largest mafic intrusive complexes on Earth. It was emplaced as the Midcontinent Rift developed in Laurentia’s interior during an interval of magmatism and extension from ca. 1109 to 1084 Ma. This duration of magmatic activity is more protracted than is typical for large igneous provinces interpreted to have formed from decompression melting of upwelling mantle plumes. While the overall duration was protracted, there were intervals of more voluminous magmatism. New 206Pb/238U zircon dates for the anorthositic and layered series of the Duluth Complex constrain these units to have been emplaced ca. 1096 Ma in < 1 m.y. (duration of 500 ± 260 k.y.). Comparison of paleomagnetic data from these units with Laurentia’s apparent polar wander path supports this interpretation. This rapid emplacement bears similarities to the geologically short duration of well-dated large igneous provinces. These data support hypotheses that call upon the co-location of lithospheric extension and anomalously hot upwelling mantle. This rapid magmatic pulse occurred >10 m.y. after initial magmatism following >20° of latitudinal plate motion. A likely scenario is one in which upwelling mantle encountered the base of Laurentian lithosphere and flowed via “upside-down drainage” to locally thinned lithosphere of the Midcontinent Rift.