Bulletin of Volcanology

, 78:19 | Cite as

Initiation and early evolution of the Franklin magmatic event preserved in the 720 Ma Natkusiak Formation, Victoria Island, Canadian Arctic

  • Nicole M. B. Williamson
  • Luke Ootes
  • Robert H. Rainbird
  • Jean H. Bédard
  • Brian Cousens
Research Article


Our understanding of the onset and evolution of flood basalt volcanism is rooted in the study of the character and internal architecture of its eruptive products. Neoproterozoic continental flood basalts of the ca. 720 Ma Franklin magmatic event are preserved as the Natkusiak Formation and are exposed within the Minto Inlier on Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. The 200 m volcanic succession evaluated in this study has features similar to those of other continental flood basalt provinces and consists of four volcanic units: a basal unit of laterally discontinuous flows with evidence for lava-sediment interactions, a mafic volcaniclastic deposit emplaced as a mass flow, a quartz-rich volcanic sandstone that records the re-establishment of small river channels, and a unit of thick, high-titanium tholeiitic sheet flows that mark the onset of the main phase of flood volcanism. The basal units show marked lateral thickness variations that imply the existence of paleotopography during their eruption and/or deposition. In addition, two newly discovered volcanic vent complexes within the Natkusiak succession preserve the products of explosive, vent-forming basaltic pyroclastic fall eruptions. Differences in major element geochemistry between the basal and upper basaltic flow units, in conjunction with the lithological characteristics of each volcanic unit, are used to correlate the units on a scale of over 100 km from the south of the Minto Inlier to the north.


Continental flood basalts Franklin magmatic event Natkusiak Formation Neoproterozoic volcanism Volcanic vents 



We thank the GEM Victoria Island project field crew for two fantastic field seasons and the hamlet of Ulukhaktok for their support. Marie-Claude Williamson, Dominique Weis, and James Scoates provided valuable insight and experience during field work. We are indebted to James Scoates and Alexandre Zagorevski, who provided excellent critical reviews during the preparation of this manuscript. Sample preparation and laboratory work were assisted by Jaques Pinard (GSC Ottawa), Trent Dell’Oro (UBC), Peter Jones (Carleton U), and Ron Hartree (U of Ottawa). This research was part of the Geological Survey of Canada’s (GSC) Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals (GEM) initiative (ESS contribution no. 20150408) and was supported through the Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) Research Affiliate Program (RAP), by GSC Central Canada and Québec divisions, Carleton University, the Northwest Territories Geological Survey (contribution no. 0092), as well as logistical support from the Polar Continental Shelf Program in 2010 and 2011.

Supplementary material

445_2016_1012_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (80 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 80 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicole M. B. Williamson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luke Ootes
    • 3
    • 4
  • Robert H. Rainbird
    • 5
  • Jean H. Bédard
    • 6
  • Brian Cousens
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Northwest Territories Geological SurveyYellowknifeCanada
  4. 4.British Columbia Geological SurveyVictoriaCanada
  5. 5.Geological Survey of CanadaOttawaCanada
  6. 6.Geological Survey of CanadaQuébecCanada

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