The early Proterozoic supracrustal rocks of the Salida area of central Colorado consist of strongly bimodal sequences of volcanogenic rocks. The mafic rocks - basalts, basaltic volcaniclastics, and related gabbro sheets - are distinctly tholeiitic, display a strong iron-enrichment trend, and typically contain less than 50% SiO2. The felsites are rhyolites to dacites and contain more than 70% SiO2. Major and trace element modeling show that the mafic rocks underwent two stages of crystal fractionation, the first involving olivine and plagioclase, the second involving plagioclase and clinopyroxene. Fractionation occurred within individual injections as they rose toward the surface rather than in a single magma chamber at depth. Field relations and major element data support the derivation of the felsic rocks from a magma generated by anatexis of sialic crust. However, the low Sr and high heavy REE concentrations in these rocks are not compatible with a partial melting model and suggest that the felsic volcanic rocks could have been derived by extensive fractional crystallization of the mafic magma. Normalized trace element abundances and trace element ratios of the mafic rocks are most like continental flood basalts such as the Columbia River basalts. They also display some similarity to immature back-arc basin tholeiites developed on continental crust, such as those of the Sarmiento complex. The felsic rocks have strong chemical affinities to within-plate rhyolites rather than calc-alkaline rhyolites from orogenic areas. The chemical data, as well as the petrographic, stratigraphic, and regional field data all indicate that the early Proterozoic supracrustal rocks of the Salida area developed along a continental margin, probably within an immature back-arc basin underlain by sialic crust. Remnants of the arc system of similar age may lie to the south in northern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado.