Seaward growth of Alaska since Jurassic time has resulted from terrane accretion and deposition of thick clastic sequences in successor basins. Post-accretionary strike-slip faulting and rifting have fragmented both newly accreted terranes and older continental rocks. Accretion and dispersion have resulted in a jambalaya of geologic units that may be viewed in the context of terrane analysis. This offers a spectrum of opportunities and problems for exploration.

Large continental fragments (e.g., North Slope, Nixon Fork, and Tatonduk terranes) consist predominately of Paleozoic rocks with relatively continuous stratigraphy and the greatest potential for regional source and reservoir trends. Other exploration targets may include continental rocks beneath oceanic terranes (e.g., Kagvik, Angayucham, Innoko, and Tozitna terranes), which occur as extensive, relatively thin thrust sheets. An island-arc terrane, the Peninsular terrane, has acted as a source both of hydrocarbons from its organic-rich oceanic sediments, and of reservoir-quality deposits shed into the Cook Inlet successor basin. Post-accretionary rifting and strike-slip dispersion of the growing continental framework of Alaska have resulted in formation of a series of basins filled with clastic sediments, including the Bering Sea and Interior basins, which are current targets for hydrocarbon exploration.

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