Neogene exhumation in the eastern Alaska Range and its relationship to splay fault activity in the Denali fault system
Thursday, 17 December 2015: 10:35
306 (Moscone South)
Dextral oblique convergence in the Denali fault system results from subduction zone strain in the Alaska syntaxis that is partitioned into the upper plate. This convergence is accommodated by dextral-reverse oblique slip on segments of the main strand of the Denali fault in the center of the Alaska Range and by splay faults north and south of the Denali fault at the margins of the Alaska Range. Low-temp. thermochronometry applied to basement rocks bounded by faults within the Denali fault system aids stratigraphic data to determine the timing and locations of exhumation in the Alaska Range, which augment regional seismicity studies aimed at resolving modern fault activity in the Denali fault system. The McCallum Creek and Broxson Gulch faults are north-dipping faults that splay southward from the Denali fault near the Delta River and mark the southern margin of the eastern Alaska Range. Apatite fission track thermochronometry on rocks north of the McCallum Creek fault shows rapid cooling in the hanging wall coeval with basin development in the footwall initiating at the Miocene-Pliocene boundary. Apatite fission track and apatite (U-Th)/He ages from plutonic rocks in the hanging wall of the Broxson Gulch fault, west of the McCallum Creek fault, show final cooling in the Miocene, slightly younger than hanging wall cooling associated with the Susitna Glacier thrust further to the west. Neogene low-temp. cooling ages in the hanging walls of the Susitna Glacier thrust, Broxson Gulch, and McCallum Creek faults suggest that these structures have been accommodating convergence in the Denali fault system throughout the Neogene. More recent cooling in the hanging wall of the McCallum Creek compared to the Susitna Glacier thrust suggests that this fault-related exhumation has migrated eastward throughout the Neogene. Convergence on these splay faults south of the Denali fault results in internal contraction of the crust south of the Denali fault, implying that the Southern Alaska Block does not move as a purely rigid body and does move with components of both northwestward translation and counterclockwise rotation. These low-temp. cooling ages illustratively reveal that complex patterns of exhumation in the Alaska Range reflect the complicated evolution of the Denali fault system as a major tectonic component in southern Alaska.