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Tectonic elements of North America, with the sedimentary cover removed.

When we started out we mused about old oceans lying buried inside our North American continent. Without wishing to look dreamy about it, one could conjure up visions of archipelagoes in the south Pacific. So, let's dream about it. Where? In the middle of our prairies, of course, in Saskatchewan, and in parts of Manitoba.
We are coming back to the Trans-Hudson Orogen (THO), which now is the eroded remnant of a series of collisions. Once it had posed as an ocean with island arcs in a rather milder setting — before the big crunch of Superior Province (in the southeast) against Hearne-Rae Province (in the northwest) put an end to this, about 1,900 to 1,800 Ma. The THO encompasses a particularly complete example of tectonic events which welded together a number of pre-existing minicontinents into the North American continent. In Saskatchewan-Manitoba this orogenic belt is 500 km east to west, one of the best preserved examples of a collisional orogen.

It includes areas in which mining companies have shown a keen interest. And west of the THO lies the Alberta Basement which also is of interest to exploration companies, mostly with respect to oil and gas. We will go west right after we have looked at the THO.

We ourselves are, of course, not an exploration company, and we are not looking for gold or oil or diamonds. LITHOPROBE is engaged in fundamental research. Nevertheless, our studies help trace and understand the geological framework in which minerals and oil and gas deposits form, and diamonds may find their way to the surface through volcanic pipes, from very deep-seated sources. And where appropriate we address the problem of why we have earthquakes or volcanoes.

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