The Acasta Gneiss Complex (AGC) is a ∼2,400 km2 Hadean-Mesoarchean terrane that contains the oldest known zircon-bearing rocks on Earth. Despite its importance for early Earth geology, only a small fraction (∼50 km2) of the AGC has been mapped in detail. We use detrital zircon grains from late Pleistocene eskers that transect the Complex to approximate the lateral extent and relative proportions of diverse-aged ancient rock units within the vast, little-studied parts of the AGC. The esker sediment was derived from glacially eroded bedrock and therefore zircon grains can serve as a proxy for the ages of exposed bedrock in the study area. U-Pb dates on ∼2400 detrital zircons from coarse and fine grain-size fractions along the esker transect yield age distributions that coincide with ages of regionally mapped AGC bedrock, the adjacent Wopmay Orogen, and granitoids of the Slave craton. Based on detrital zircon age distributions and new reconnaissance-scale mapping, we infer that 3.37 Ga granitoids are a volumetrically significant component of the unmapped AGC. Esker zircons older than 3.7 Ga are present in most esker samples but at low abundance, which suggests that Eoarchean and Hadean rocks are a volumetrically subordinate component of the AGC. However, the data also suggest that unmapped rocks at least as old as 3.95 Ga are present toward the inferred eastern limit of the AGC, a location where Eoarchean rocks have not been recognized previously.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology