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The geophysical character of southern Alaska—Implications for crustal evolution

By
R.W. Saltus
R.W. Saltus
1
U.S. Geological Survey, Mail Stop 964, Denver, Colorado 80225-0046, USA
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T.L. Hudson
T.L. Hudson
2
Applied Geology, 902 Vista del Mar, Sequim, Washington, USA
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F.H. Wilson
F.H. Wilson
3
U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 University Drive, Anchorage, Alaska, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2007

The southern Alaska continental margin has undergone a long and complicated history of plate convergence, subduction, accretion, and margin-parallel displacements. The crustal character of this continental margin is discernible through combined analysis of aeromagnetic and gravity data with key constraints from previous seismic interpretation. Regional magnetic data are particularly useful in defining broad geophysical domains. One of these domains, the south Alaska magnetic high, is the focus of this study. It is an intense and continuous magnetic high up to 200 km wide and ∼1500 km long extending from the Canadian border in the Wrangell Mountains west and southwest through Cook Inlet to the Bering Sea shelf. Crustal thickness beneath the south Alaska magnetic high is commonly 40–50 km. Gravity analysis indicates that the south Alaska magnetic high crust is dense. The south Alaska magnetic high spatially coincides with the Peninsular and Wrangellia terranes. The thick, dense, and magnetic character of this domain requires significant amounts of mafic rocks at intermediate to deep crustal levels. In Wrangellia these mafic rocks are likely to have been emplaced during Middle and (or) Late Triassic Nikolai Greenstone volcanism. In the Peninsular terrane, the most extensive period of mafic magmatism now known was associated with the Early Jurassic Talkeetna Formation volcanic arc. Thus the thick, dense, and magnetic character of the south Alaska magnetic high crust apparently developed as the response to mafic magmatism in both extensional (Wrangellia) and subduction-related arc (Peninsular terrane) settings. The south Alaska magnetic high is therefore a composite crustal feature. At least in Wrangellia, the crust was probably of average thickness (30 km) or greater prior to Triassic mafic magmatism. Up to 20 km (40%) of its present thickness may be due to the addition of Triassic mafic magmas. Throughout the south Alaska magnetic high, significant crustal growth was caused by the addition of mafic magmas at intermediate to deep crustal levels.

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GSA Special Papers

Tectonic Growth of a Collisional Continental Margin: Crustal Evolution of Southern Alaska

Kenneth D. Ridgway
Kenneth D. Ridgway
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Jeffrey M. Trop
Jeffrey M. Trop
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Jonathan M.G. Glen
Jonathan M.G. Glen
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J. Michael O'Neill
J. Michael O'Neill
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Geological Society of America
Volume
431
ISBN print:
9780813724317
Publication date:
January 01, 2007

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