Abstract

Paleomagnetic evidence indicates that the extensive early Mesozoic basalt field near McCarthy, south-central Alaska, originated far south of its present position relative to North America. Results obtained from the Middle and (or) Upper Triassic Nikolai Greenstone suggest that those basalts originated within 15° of the paleoequator. This position is at least 27° (3000 km) south of the Upper Triassic latitude predicted for McCarthy on the basis of paleomagnetic data from continental North America. The Nikolai pole, as determined from 50 flows sampled at 5 sites, is at 2.2° N, 146.1° E (α95 = 4.8°). The polarity of the pole is ambiguous, because the corresponding magnetic direction has a low inclination and a westerly declination. Therefore, the Nikolai may have originated near 15° N latitude or, alternatively, as far south as 15° S latitude. In addition to being displaced northward, the Nikolai block has been rotated roughly 90° about the vertical axis. A measure of the reliability of this pole is provided by favorable results from the following tests: (1) Within one stratigraphic section, normal and reversed directions from consecutive flows are antipolar. (2) Consistent directions were obtained from sites 30 km apart. (3) Application of the fold test indicated the magnetization was acquired before the rocks were folded. (4) The magnetizations of several pilot specimens are thermally stable up to 550 °C. The stable component is probably carried by magnetite with lamellar texture, a primary feature commonly acquired by a basalt at high temperature during initial cooling of the magma. Geologic and paleomagnetic evidence indicates that the Nikolai is allochthonous to Alaska and that, together with associated formations in southern Alaska and British Columbia, it is part of a now disrupted equatorial terrane.

You do not currently have access to this article.