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ABSTRACT

The Taltheilei, Utsingi, McLean and Blanchet formations form a 175–390 m thick carbonate platform-to-basin succession in the lower part of the PaleoProterozoic Pethei Group, preserved in the eastern arm of Great Slave Lake. Carbonates accumulated along the south-east margin of the Slave Craton within a foredeep formed during the collision of the Slave and Churchill Cratons. The rocks include eight, predominantly microbial, carbonate facies that comprise five facies associations representing (1) shallow-water rimmed shelf, (2) shallow-water open shelf, (3) shallow-water ramp, (4) upper slope and deep ramp, and (5) lower slope and basin plain environments. Microbialite facies grew by organically mediated precipitation of spar and micritic cement and trapping and binding of lime mud.

These wholly subtidal facies typically reflect progressive shallowing and changing geometry of the lower Pethei sea floor, from ramp, to open shelf, to shallow rimmed shelf, with associated slope and basin plain deposition. Repeated relative sea-level changes influenced platform growth. This resulted in five shallowing upward packages; each separated by an incipient drowning event of varying magnitude. Antecedent topography and the size of the preceding drowning event strongly influenced the initial growth of each interval. This repeated pattern is attributed to interaction between (a) the inherent tendency of microbial carbonates to aggrade vertically, (b) changing sedimentation rates and (c) readjustments of relative base level.

The lower Pethei succession is one of few PaleoProterozoic examples of carbonate platform growth within a foreland basin. It has (1) a low gradient profile, (2) extensive slope and basin plain carbonate production and sedimentation, (3) no ooids, (4) minor terrigenous clastic sediments, and (4) a mobile, submergent shelf rim lacking substantial carbonate sand shoals.