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Early Proterozoic climates and plate motions inferred from major element chemistry of lutites


The early Proterozoic Huronian Supergroup of the north shore of Lake Huron (Fig. 1) is a thick (up to 12,000 m) succession of sedimentary and volcanic rocks deposited between about 2,500 and 2,100 Myr ago1. Here we present a palaeoclimatic interpretation of the Huronian based on approximately 200 major elements analyses of lutites. Most of these are new analyses from the Gowganda and Serpent Formations (Fig. 2). The remainder are from published sources cited in Fig. 4. The composition of lutites from the Huronian Supergroup records an early period of intense, probably tropical, weathering followed by climatic deterioration that culminated in widespread deposition of glaciogenic sediments of the Gowganda Formation. Climatic amelioration followed during deposition of the succeeding Huronian formations. The Huronian succession can be interpreted using a uniformitarian approach in that present day seafloor spreading rates and latitude-related climatic variations are compatible with available geochronological and palaeomagnetic data.

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Nesbitt, H., Young, G. Early Proterozoic climates and plate motions inferred from major element chemistry of lutites. Nature 299, 715–717 (1982).

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