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Dating fault damage along the eastern Denali fault zone with hematite (U-Th)/He thermochronometry

March 19, 2021

Unraveling complex slip histories in fault damage zones to understand relations among deformation, hydrothermal alteration, and surface uplift remains a challenge. The dextral eastern Denali fault zone (EDFZ; southwest Yukon, Canada) bounds the Kluane Ranges and hosts a variety of fault-related rocks, including hematite fault surfaces, which have been exhumed through the brittle regime over a protracted period of geologic time. Scanning electron microscopy-based microtextural observations and hematite (U-Th)/He (hematite He) thermochronometry from these surfaces indicate multiple generations of foliated, high-aspect ratio hematite plates. Single-aliquot hematite He dates (n=38">n=38) from 11 samples range from 11.5 ± 3.2 Ma (2σ) to 3.4 ± 2.1 Ma and exhibit moderate inter- and intrasample dispersion. A subset of dates is 15-20 Myr younger than previously published apatite (U-Th)/He dates from collocated host rocks, despite similar closure temperatures, precluding a simple ambient cooling interpretation for our hematite He data. Mixture modeling defines hematite He date populations at ∼8 Ma, ∼6 Ma, and ∼4 Ma, and when combined with microtextural observations, supports episodes of hydrothermal alteration and fault reactivation at aseismic to subseismic slip rates. There is no evidence that hematite experienced deformation- or hydrothermal fluid-related He loss. Hematite He dates overlap previously documented Kluane Ranges surface uplift and shifting dynamics of the Yakutat microplate, pinpointing fault networks and deformation processes that accommodate regional deformation in response to far-field plate boundary processes.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Dating fault damage along the eastern Denali fault zone with hematite (U-Th)/He thermochronometry
DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2021.116872
Authors Robert G. McDermott, Alexis K. Ault, Jonathan Caine
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Series Number
Index ID 70219101
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center