Low Temperature Paleogene Thermal Evolution of the British Mountains using Apatite U-Th/He Dating, Northern Yukon, Canada

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Julia Ellen Pickering1, Bernard Guest1, David A Schneider2 and Larry Lane3, (1)University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada, (2)University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada, (3)Geological Survey of Canada Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
The age and rate of exhumation of the British Mountains is tied to the timing of deformation in the Beaufort Sea, an active site for hydrocarbon exploration. This region contains a large portion of North America’s oil and gas reserves. The British Mountains, the eastern extent of the Brooks Range in Alaska, include Paleogene structures that are the onshore portion of the Beaufort fold belt. In the Beaufort Sea, deformation is dominated by thin-skinned folding and thrusting of Paleocene to Oligocene sediments that is sourced from the British Mountains. Onshore, Paleogene deformation overprints multiple older structural events. The low temperature time history of the onshore Paleogene structures will be determined through U-Th/He dating of apatites (AHe). The results will contribute to better understanding of the timing of the maturation and migration of hydrocarbons in the Beaufort Sea. Previous work on the thermal history of northern Yukon and the North Slope of Alaska provides a regional framework for the region’s low temperature-time history. These regional studies of the northern Yukon and Alaska yielded Paleocene to Eocene (60Ma – 40Ma) apatite fission track (AFT) cooling ages that progressively young to the north, consistent with geological evidence for northward propagating deformation. The British Mountains consist of Neoproterozoic to early Paleozoic marine sediments that are intruded by scattered Devonian plutons; both rock types will be included in the study.

This study aims to improve the understanding of the Paleogene tectonic activity of the British Mountains and the deformation history of the Beaufort fold belt. The two data sets, existing AFT and new AHe results, will be both be included in the interpretation of the study area. We will present AHe data to better constrain the onshore exhumation and deformation rates at low temperatures (~60-90°C). A sampled transect through the British mountains, along the Firth River valley will provide good resolution on these rates of the deformation. The results will be used to relate the onshore time-temperature history with the development of offshore structures in the Arctic Canadian Cordillera.