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Intrusive rocks and plutonic belts of southeastern Alaska, U.S.A.

January 1, 2013

About 30 percent of the 175,000-km2 area of southeastern Alaska is underlain by intrusive igneous rocks. Compilation of available information on the distribution, composition, and ages of these rocks indicates the presence of six major and six minor plutonic belts.

From west to east, the major belts are: the Fairweather-Baranof belt of early to mid-Tertiary granodiorite; the Muir-Chichagof belt of mid-Cretaceous tonalite and granodiorite; the Admiralty-Revillagigedo belt of porphyritic granodiorite, quartz diorite, and diorite of probable Cretaceous age; the Klukwan-Duke belt of concentrically zoned or Alaskan-type ultramafic-mafic plutons of mid-Cretaceous age within the Admiralty-Revillagigedo belt; the Coast Plutonic Complex sill belt of tonalite of unknown, but perhaps mid-Cretaceous, age; and the Coast Plutonic Complex belt I of early to mid-Tertiary granodiorite and quartz monzonite.

The minor belts are distributed as follows: the Glacier Bay belt of Cretaceous and(or) Tertiary granodiorite, tonalite, and quartz diorite lies within the Fair-weather-Baranof belt; layered gabbro complexes of inferred mid-Tertiary age lie within and are probably related to the Fairweather-Baranof belt; the Chilkat-Chichagof belt of Jurassic granodiorite and tonalite lies within the Muir-Chichagof belt; the Sitkoh Bay alkaline, the Kendrick Bay pyroxenite to quartz monzonite, and the Annette and Cape Fox trondhjemite plutons, all interpreted to be of Ordovician(?) age, together form the crude southern southeastern Alaska belt within the Muir-Chichagof belt; the Kuiu-Etolin mid-Tertiary belt of volcanic and plutonic rocks extends from the Muir-Chichagof belt eastward into the Admiralty-Revillagigedo belt; and the Behm Canal belt of mid- to late Tertiary granite lies within and next to Coast Plutonic Complex belt II. In addition, scattered mafic-ultramafic bodies occur within the Fairweather-Baranof, Muir-Chichagof, and Coast Plutonic Complex belts I and II. Palinspastic reconstruction of 200 km of right-lateral movement on the Chatham Strait fault does not significantly change the pattern of the major belts but does bring parts of the minor mid-Tertiary and Ordovician(?) belts closer together.

The major belts are related to the stratigraphic-tectonic terranes of Berg, Jones, and Coney (1978) as follows: the Fairweather-Baranof belt is largely in the Chugach, Wrangell (Wrangellia), and Alexander terranes; the Muir-Chichagof belt is in the Alexander and Wrangell terranes; the Admiralty-Revillagigedo belt is in the Gravina and Taku terranes; the Klukwan-Duke belt is in the Gravina, Taku, and Alexander terranes; the Coast Plutonic Complex sill belt is probably between the Taku and Tracy Arm terranes; and the Coast Plutonic Complex belts I and II are in the Tracy Arm and Stikine terranes.

Significant metallic-mineral deposits are spatially related to certain of these belts, and some deposits may be genetically related. Gold, copper, and molybdenum occurrences may be related to granodiorites of the Fairweather-Baranof belt. Magmatic copper-nickel deposits occur in the layered gabbro within that belt. The Juneau gold belt, which contains gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc occurrences, parallels and lies close to the Coast Plutonic Complex sill belt; iron deposits occur in the Klukwan-Duke belt; and porphyry molybdenum deposits occur in the Behm Canal belt.

The Muir-Chichagof belt of mid-Cretaceous age and the Admiralty-Revillagigedo belt of probable Cretaceous age are currently interpreted as possible magmatic arcs associated with subduction events. In general, the other belts of intrusive rocks are spatially related to structural discontinuities, but genetic relations, if any, are not yet known. The Coast Plutonic Complex sill belt is probably related to a post-Triassic, pre-early Tertiary suture zone that nearly corresponds to the boundary between the Tracy Arm and Taku terranes. The boundary between the Admiralty-Revillagigedo and Muir-Chichagof belts coincides nearly with the Seymour Canal-Clarence Strait lineament and also is probably a major post-Triassic suture.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1983
Title Intrusive rocks and plutonic belts of southeastern Alaska, U.S.A.
DOI 10.1130/MEM159-p171
Authors David A. Brew, Robert P. Morrell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Circum-Pacific plutonic terranes (GSA Memoirs 159)
Index ID 70047781
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse