Present-Day Strain Transfer Across the Yakutat Collision in SW Yukon – SE Alaska: The Death of the Southern Denali Fault?

Monday, 15 December 2014
Anaïs Marechal1, Stephane Mazzotti1, Jean-Francois Ritz1, Matthieu A Ferry1 and Jeffrey Todd Freymueller2, (1)Universite Montpellier 2, Montpellier Cedex 05, France, (2)University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States
In SW Yukon–SE Alaska, the present-day Pacific–North America relative motion is highly oblique to the main plate boundary, resulting in strong strain-partitioning tectonics that link the Aleutian subduction to the west to Queen Charlotte transform to the south. This transition region is also the site of present-day orogeny and accretion of the Yakutat Terrane to the Northern Cordillera.

Multiple datasets (GPS, geomorphology, seismicity) are integrated to characterize and quantify strain patterns, with particular emphasis on strain partitioning between strike-slip and shortening deformation. New GPS data straddling the main faults (Denali, Totschunda, Fairweather) indicate that, south of the collision corner, 95% of the Pacific-North America strike-slip motion is accommodated on the plate-boundary Fairweather Fault, leaving near-zero motion on the Denali Fault only ~100 km inboard. In contrast, the fault-perpendicular component is strongly distributed between shortening offshore, in the orogen, and inland outward motion.

In the region of highest convergence obliquity, GPS data show a diffuse indentor-like deformation, with strong along-strike variations of the main fault slip rates. Preliminary results of a regional geomorphology study give further information about the Denali Fault, where previous data suggest a velocity decrease from 8 mm/yr (Matmon et al.,2006) to 4 mm/yr (Seitz et al., 2010). A high resolution DEM processed from Pleiades satellite imagery highlights a significant vertical component on the Denali Fault and very little to no strike-slip movement in its southern part. Metric-scale displacements are measured along the “inactive” part of the fault showing recent vertical deformation since the Last Glacial Maximum (~20 kyrs ago). In contrast, significant dextral offsets on post-LGM structures are measured on the southern Totschunda Fault. Ongoing datation of geomorphological markers (Be10, OSL) will give us new slip-rate estimates along the southern part of the main transpressional faults (Denali, Totschunda). Our preliminary results suggest that, both south and north of the collision front, the lithospheric scale Denali Fault does not show any significant strike slip movement and that deformation is mostly accommodated along the Fairweather and Totschunda Faults.