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Northern North America

January 01, 1994


Alaska is the eastern, subaerial part of a large subcontinent of distinctive tectonic character that serves as an isthmus between nuclear North America, with its fringing belt of allochthonous terranes, and the accreted terranes and volcanic belts that constitute northeastern Russia. Physiographically, this subcontinent, which we name Denalia, is a bulge in the continental platform in the vicinity of Alaska, the Chukotsk Peninsula, and the broad continental shelf of the Bering Sea. The bulge is convex to the south and is bounded on the east and west by constrictions in the width of the continental platform and on the north and south by the edge of the continental shelf (Fig. 1). Tectonically, Denalia is characterized by geologic youthfulness and complexity, an abundance of convergent and transcurrent faults, and absence of autochthonous cratonic rocks. It contains a profusion of lithotectonic terranes of diverse origin and age that were emplaced in late Mesozoic and Cenozoic time. In addition, it includes the superimposed Cenozoic Aleutian arc and subduction zone and the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather transform fault system. Parts of Denalia were created by pre-middle Mesozoic tectonic events, but these took place elsewhere, before the affected rocks were tectonically transported and incorporated into the landmass of Denalia. Except for a small area in the Porcupine Plateau region along the Alaska-Yukon boundary, the only Precambrian rocks that have been recognized in the subcontinent are in tectonically emplaced fragments, the largest of which is the Arctic Alaska terrane in the Brooks Range, Arctic Foothills, and Arctic Foothills

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Figures & Tables


DNAG, Continent-Ocean Transect Series

Phanerozoic Evolution of North American Continent-Ocean Transitions

Robert C. Speed
Robert C. Speed
Department of Geological Sciences Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois 60208
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Geological Society of America
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January 01, 1994




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