The Current Tectonics of the Yukon and Adjacent Area

Monday, 15 December 2014
Roy D Hyndman, Geological Survey of Canada Sidney, Sidney, BC, Canada and Lucinda J Leonard, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
The current tectonics across the Yukon and adjacent areas of western Northwest Territories (NWT) and northern British Columbia appear to be driven primarily by the Yakutat Terrane collision, an “indenter” in the corner of the Gulf of Alaska. GPS data show 1-10 mm/yr northward and eastward, decreasing inland. The rates from earthquake statistics are similar although there are important discrepancies. The eastern Cordillera earthquake mechanisms are mainly thrust in the Mackenzie Mountains of southwestern NWT where the Cordillera upper crust is overthrusting the craton. To the north, the mechanisms are mainly strike-slip in the Richardson Mountains that appear to lie along the edge of the craton. The deformation appears to be limited to the hot and weak Cordillera with the strong craton providing an irregular eastern boundary. For example, there is an eastward bow in the craton edge and the deformation in the Mackenzie Mountains. On the Beaufort Sea margin in the region of the Mackenzie Delta there appears to be a type of “subduction zone” with the continent very slowly overthrusting the oceanic plate, a process that has continued since at least the Cretaceous. A northward moving continental margin block is bounded by left lateral faulting in the west (Canning Displacement Zone of eastern Alaska) and right lateral faulting in the east (Richardson Mountains in eastern Yukon). There is almost no seismicity on this thrust belt but as for some other subduction zones such as Cascadia there is the potential for very infrequent great earthquakes.