Abstract

The 155 km wide, 310 km long Sitka Sound – Atlin Lake continent–ocean transect includes almost all the geologic, geophysical, and geotectonic elements of the Canadian Cordillera. It crosses the Chugach, Wrangellia, Alexander, Stikine, and Cache Creek terranes, the Gravina and Laberge overlap assemblages, intrusive and metamorphic belts, and neotectonic faults that bound major blocks. Linear belts of magnetic highs are associated with Jurassic and Cretaceous granitic belts in Wrangellia and the western and central parts of the Alexander terrane and with the granitic rocks of the Coast plutonic–metamorphic complex (CPMC). The Border Ranges fault may be expressed at depth on either side of the Peril Strait fault. An enigmatic northeast-trending gradient in the CPMC and adjacent rocks separates a regional magnetic low to the northwest from a 300 nT high field to the southeast. The Bouguer gravity field decreases in broad steps from Pacific crust high values to lows at the international boundary, with pronounced gradients at the east edge of Chugach terrane and west edge of of CPMC. It indicates that the crust thickens from about 20 to 40 km from southwest to northeast. Ultramafic bodies in the Chugach, Alexander, and Wrangellia terranes and Gravina assemblage underlie local highs. Most of the accumulated seismic strain is released by large earthquakes on the Fairweather – Queen Charlotte Islands plate-margin fault, but the northern part of the Glacier Bay region, the Denali fault zone, and the Coast Mountains also have significant seismicity. Part of the Glacier Bay region is being uplifted at a high rate. Most of these features are related to the joining of (i) Wrangellia to Alexander terrane (Carboniferous), (ii) Stikine to Cache Creek terrane (Early Jurassic), (iii) Alexander terrane and Gravina assemblage to Stikine (Late Cretaceous), and (iv) Chugach to Wrangellia and Alexander terrane (Late Cretaceous or Paleogene).

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