INVESTIGATING EOCENE TO ACTIVE TECTONICS OF THE ALASKAN CONVERGENT MARGIN THROU GH GEOLOGIC STUDIES AND 3-D NUMERICAL MODELING
The combination of field-based studies and numerical modeling provides a robust tool for evaluating geologic and geodynamic processes along a convergent margin. Complex and persistent tectonic activity and a novel suite of geophysical observations make the southern Alaskan convergent margin a key region to evaluate these processes through both basin analysis studies and geodynamic modeling. This conceptual approach is utilized to explore the active driving forces of surface deformation throughout southcentral Alaska, as well as the geologic record of regional Cenozoic tectonic processes.
New sedimentologic, chronostratigraphic, and provenance data from strata that crop out within the central Alaska Range document a previously unrecognized stage of Eocene – early Miocene strike-slip basin development along the northern side of the central Denali fault system. This stage was followed by Miocene-Pliocene deformation and exhumation of the central Alaska Range, and basin development and northward sediment transport into the Tanana foreland basin. This portion of the study provides insight into Cenozoic tectonics and basin development in the central Alaska Range.
How transpressional tectonics are manifest in the modern-day, in combination with shallow subduction processes, are not well understood for the southern Alaskan convergent margin. Simulations of the 3-D deformation of this region allow for investigation of the complex relationship between these tectonic processes and surface deformation. Results from this study display the far-field affect that strong plate coupling along the shallowly subducting Yakutat slab has on the surface deformation of southcentral Alaska. Our models also show that partitioning of this convergence is observed along the Denali fault system. Additionally, our results indicate the subducting slab is segmented into separate Pacific, Yakutat and Wrangell slab segments. This variation in slab structure exerts control on the upper plate response to shallow subduction.