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Structural and kinematic evolution of the Yukon-Tanana upland tectonites, east-central Alaska: A record of late Paleozoic to Mesozoic crustal assembly

January 1, 1998

The Yukon-Tanana terrane, the largest tectonostratigraphic terrane in the northern North American Cordillera, is polygenetic and not a single terrane. Lineated and foliated (L-S) tectonites, which characterize the Yukon-Tanana terrane, record multiple deformations and formed at different times. We document the polyphase history recorded by L-S tectonites within the Yukon-Tanana upland, east-central Alaska. These upland tectonites compose a heterogeneous assemblage of deformed igneous and metamorphic rocks that form the Alaskan part of what has been called the Yukon-Tanana composite terrane. We build on previous kinematic data and establish the three-dimensional architecture of the upland tectonites through kinematic and structural analysis of more than 250 oriented samples, including quartz c-axis fabric analysis of 39 samples. Through this study we distinguish allochthonous tectonites from parautochthonous tectonites within the Yukon-Tanana upland. The upland tectonites define a regionally coherent stacking order: from bottom to top, they are lower plate North American parautochthonous attenuated continental margin; continentally derived marginal-basin strata; and upper plate ocean-basin and island-arc rocks, including some continental basement rocks. We delineate three major deformation events in time, space, and structural level across the upland from the United States-Canada border to Fairbanks, Alaska: (1) pre-Early Jurassic (>212 Ma) northeast-directed, apparent margin-normal contraction that affected oceanic rocks; (2) late Early to early Middle Jurassic (>188-185 Ma) northwest-directed, apparent margin-parallel contraction and imbrication that resulted in juxtaposition of the allochthonous tectonites with parautochthonous continental rocks; and (3) Early Cretaceous (135-110 Ma) southeast-directed crustal extension that resulted in exposure of the structurally deepest, parautochthonous continental rocks. The oldest event represents deformation within a west-dipping (present coordinates) Permian-Triassic subduction zone. The second event records Early to Middle Jurassic collision of the arc and subduction complex with North American crust, and the third event reflects mid-Cretaceous southeast-directed crustal extension. Events one and two can be recognized and correlated through southern Yukon, even though this region was affected by mid-Cretaceous dextral shear along steep northwest-striking faults. Our data support a model of crustal assembly originally proposed by D. Tempelman-Kluit in which previously deformed allochthonous rocks were thrust over parautochthonous rocks of the attenuated North American margin in Middle Jurassic time. Approximately 50 m.y. after tectonic accretion, east-central Alaska was dissected by crustal extension, exposing overthrust parautochthonous strata.

Publication Year 1998
Title Structural and kinematic evolution of the Yukon-Tanana upland tectonites, east-central Alaska: A record of late Paleozoic to Mesozoic crustal assembly
DOI 10.1130/0016-7606(1998)110<0211:SAKEOT>2.3.CO;2
Authors V. L. Hansen, Cynthia Dusel-Bacon
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geological Society of America Bulletin
Index ID 70020618
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center