The Archean northern Wyoming Province can be subdivided into two geologically distinct terranes, the Beartooth-Bighorn magmatic terrane (BBMT) and the Montana metasedimentary terrane (MMT). The BBMT is characterized by voluminous Late Archean (2.90-2.74 Ga) magmatic rocks (primarily tonalite, trondhjemite, and granite); metasedimentary rocks are preserved only as small, rare enclaves in this magmatic terrane. The magmatic rocks typically have geochemical and isotopic signatures that suggest petrogenesis in a continental magmatic arc environment. The MMT, as exposed in the northern Gallatin and Madison Ranges, is dominated by Middle Archean trondhjemitic gneisses (3.2-3.0 Ga); metasedimentary rocks, however, are significantly more abundant than in the BBMT. Each terrane has experienced a separate and distinct geologic history since at least 3.6 Ga ago based on differences in metamorphic and structural styles, composition of magmatic and metasupracrustal rocks, and isotopic ages; consequently, these may be described as discrete terranes in the Cordilleran sense. Nonetheless, highly radiogenic and distinctive Pb-Pb isotopic signatures in rocks of all ages in both terranes indicate that the two terranes share a significant aspect of their history. This suggests that these two Early to Middle Archean crustal blocks, that initially evolved as part of a larger crustal province, experienced different geologic histories from at least 3.6 Ga until their juxtaposition in the Late Archean (between 2.75 to 2.55 Ga ago). Consequently, the boundary between the BBMT and MMT appears to separate terranes that are not likely to be exotic in the sense of their Phanerozoic counterparts. Other Archean provinces do appear to contain crustal blocks with different isotopic signatures (e.g. West Greenland, India, South Africa). The use of the term exotic, therefore, must be cautious in situations where geographic indicators such as paleontologic and/or paleomagnetic data are not available. In these cases, isotopic signatures are one of the most useful features for assessing overall genetic relations amongst geologically distinct terranes. ?? 1992.
Additional publication details
The nature of Archean terrane boundaries: an example from the northern Wyoming Province