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Abstract

Southwest Alaska lies between the Yukon-Koyukuk province to the north, and the Alaska Peninsula to the south (Wahrhaftig, this volume). It includes the southwestern Alaska Range, the Kuskokwim Mountains, the Ahklun Mountains, the Bristol Bay Lowland, and the Minchumina and Holitna basins. It is an area of approximately 175,000 km2, and, with the exception of the rugged southwestern Alaska Range and Ahklun Mountains, consists mostly of low rolling hills.

The oldest rocks in the region are metamorphic rocks with Early Proterozoic protolith ages that occur as isolated exposures in the central Kuskokwim Mountains, and in fault contact with Mesozoic accretionary rocks of the Bristol Bay region. Precambrian metamorphic rocks also occur in the northern Kuskokwim Mountains and serve as depositional basement for Paleozoic shelf deposits. A nearly continuous sequence of Paleozoic continental margin rocks underlies much of the southwestern Alaska Range and northern Kuskokwim Mountains. The most extensive unit in southwest Alaska is the predominantly Upper Cretaceous Kuskokwim Group, which, in large part, rests unconformably on older rocks of the region. Volcanic rocks of Mesozoic age are common in the Bristol Bay region, and volcanic and plutonic rocks of latest Cretaceous and earliest Tertiary age are common throughout southwest Alaska.

Two major northeast-trending faults are known to traverse southwest Alaska, the Denali-Farewell fault system to the south, and the Iditarod-Nixon Fork fault to the north. Latest Cretaceous and Tertiary right-lateral offsets of less than 150 km characterize both faults. The Susulatna lineament (or Poorman fault), north of the Iditarod-Nixon Fork

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