The late tectonic evolution of the Slave craton involves extensive magmatism, deformation, and high temperature-low pressure (HT-LP) metamorphism. We argue that the nature of these tectonic events is difficult to reconcile with early, pre-2.7 Ga development and preservation of a thick tectosphere, and suggest that crust–mantle coupling and stabilization occurred only late in the orogenic development of the craton. The extent and repetitiveness of the tectonic reworking documented within the Mesoarchean basement complex of the western Slave, together with the development of large-volume, extensional mafic magmatism at 2.7 Ga within the basement complex argue against preservation of a widespread, thick, cool Mesoarchean tectosphere beneath the western Slave craton prior to Neoarchean tectonism. Broad-scale geological and geophysical features of the Slave craton, including orientation of an early F1 fold belt, distribution of ca. 2.63–2.62 Ga plutonic rocks, and the distribution of geochemical, petrological and geophysical domains within the mantle lithosphere collectively highlight the importance of an NE–SW structural grain to the craton. These trends are oblique to the earlier, ca. 2.7 Ga north–south trending boundary between Mesoarchean and Neoarchean crustal domains, and are interpreted to represent a younger structural feature imposed during northwest or southeast-vergent tectonism at ca. 2.64–2.61 Ga. Extensive plutonism, in part mantle-derived, crustal melting and associated HT-LP metamorphism argue for widespread mantle heat input to the crust, a feature most consistent with thin (<100 km) lithosphere at that time. We propose that the mantle lithosphere developed by tectonic imbrication of one or more slabs subducted beneath the craton at the time of development of the D1 structural grain, producing the early 2.63–2.62 Ga arc-like plutonic rocks. Subsequent collision (external to the present craton boundaries) possibly accompanied by partial delamination of some of the underthrust lithosphere, produced widespread deformation (D2) and granite plutonism throughout the province at 2.6–2.58 Ga. An implication of this model is that diamond formation in the Slave should be Neoarchean in age.
- Slave province