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DETRITAL RECORD OF PALEOZOIC AND MESOZOIC TECTONICS OF THE NORTHWESTERN CORDILLERAN MARGIN: A CENTRAL ALASKAN PERSPECTIVE

thesis
posted on 2024-06-14, 13:52 authored by Lukas Geiger-Rigby McCrearyLukas Geiger-Rigby McCreary

The Intermontane terranes represent one of the largest composite accreted terranes that built the northern Cordillera. To better understand the interactions between the continental margin of Laurentia and the Intermontane terranes, this study analyzes twelve detrital zircon samples (n=3232) from a Neoproterozoic (?) to Cretaceous metasedimentary stratigraphic section exposed in central Alaska. Distinct detrital zircon populations have been identified and are interpreted to represent four stages in the geologic development of this part of western North America. Stage 1 extends from the Neoproterozoic (?) to the Early Paleozoic, and is characterized by Proterozoic and Archean detrital zircon populations that correlate with Laurentian sources of sediment. We interpret Stage 1 to represent deposition along the northwestern continental margin of Laurentia. Stage 2 extends from the Silurian (?) to the Devonian and is characterized by a dominant Devonian and Silurian detrital zircon population. We interpret Stage 2 to have been deposited in a backarc basin coeval with active volcanism as the Yukon-Tanana terrane was rifted away from the Laurentian continental margin as the Slide Mountain Ocean opened. Stage 3 extends from the Mississippian to the Jurassic and records a shift back to sediment sources with abundant Proterozoic and Archean zircon. We interpret this stage to represent deposition of Laurentian detritus along the eastern margin of the Slide Mountain Ocean basin. Stage 4 is represented by the Lower Cretaceous strata of the Manley basin that contain one major Late Triassic to Early Jurassic detrital zircon population. We interpret this population to be sourced from the syn-collisional and post-collisional Late Triassic to Early Jurassic plutons and related sedimentary basins of the Intermontane terranes that were exhumed and eroded during the closure of the Slide Mountain Ocean and the subsequent collision with the Laurentian continental margin. We interpret the Manley basin as a syn- to post-collisional extensional basin associated with regional detachment faults that formed because of crustal thickening in the collisional zone. From a regional perspective, an extensive clastic wedge prograded northward away from the zone of crustal thickening and can be identified in a series of Mesozoic sedimentary basins that are discontinuously exposed over 1500 km in southern Alaska. Results of our study better delineate the tectonic processes that set the framework for the construction of the Late Mesozoic and Cenozoic Cordilleran orogen.

Funding

Alaska Geological Society and Pacific Section American Association of Petroleum Geology Scholarship

Cearley Basin Analysis Fund

Terry R. West Scholarship

Cedric J. Newby Award

Michael C. Gardner Memorial Award

History

Degree Type

  • Master of Science

Department

  • Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Michael Eddy

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Kenneth Ridgway

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Marty Frisbee