Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Phanerozoic stratigraphy of Northwind Ridge, magnetic anomalies in the Canada Basin, and the geometry and timing of rifting in the Amerasia Basin, Arctic Ocean

January 1, 1998

Cores from Northwind Ridge, a high-standing continental fragment in the Chukchi borderland of the oceanic Amerasia basin, Arctic Ocean, contain representatives of every Phanerozoic system except the Silurian and Devonian systems. Cambrian and Ordovician shallow-water marine carbonates in Northwind Ridge are similar to basement rocks beneath the Sverdrup basin of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Upper Mississippian(?) to Permian shelf carbonate and spicularite and Triassic turbidite and shelf lutite resemble coeval strata in the Sverdrup basin and the western Arctic Alaska basin (Hanna trough). These resemblances indicate that Triassic and older strata in southern Northwind Ridge were attached to both Arctic Canada and Arctic Alaska prior to the rifting that created the Amerasia basin. Late Jurassic marine lutite in Northwind Ridge was structurally isolated from coeval strata in the Sverdrup and Arctic Alaska basins by rift shoulder and grabens, and is interpreted to be a riftogenic deposit. This lutite may be the oldest deposit in the Canada basin. A cape of late Cenomanian or Turonian rhyodacite air-fall ash that lacks terrigenous material shows that Northwind Ridge was structurally isolated from the adjacent continental margins by earliest Late Cretaceous time. Closing Amerasia basin by conjoining seafloor magnetic anomalies beneath the Canada basin or by uniting the pre-Jurassic strata of Northwind Ridge with kindred sections in the Sverdrup basin and Hanna trough yield simular tectonic reconstructions. Together with the orientation and age of rift-marine structures, these data suggest that: 1) prior to opening of the Amerasia basin, both northern Alaska and continental ridges of the Chukchi borderland were part of North America, 2) the extension that created the Amerasia basin formed rift-margin graben beginning in Early Jurassic time and new oceanic crust probably beginning in Late Jurassic or early Neocomian time. Reconstruction of the Amerasia basin on the basis of the stratigraphy of Northwind Ridge and sea-floor magnetic anomalies in the Canada basin accounts in a general way for the major crustal elements of the Americasia basin, including the highstanding ridges of the Chukchi borderland, and supports S.W. Carye's hypothesis that the Amerasia basin is the product of anticlockwise rotational rifting of Arctic Alaska from North America.