Abstract

Metamorphic rocks within and west of the northern Coast Mountains in southeastern Alaska consist of an Upper Proterozoic(?) to upper Paleozoic continental margin assemblage that we interpret to belong to the Yukon-Tanana terrane. U–Pb geochronologic analyses of single detrital zircon grains from four samples of quartzite suggest that the zircons were shed from source regions containing rocks of ~495 Ma, ~750 Ma, 1.05–1.40 Ga, 1.75–2.00 Ga, ~2.3 Ga, 2.5–2.7 Ga, and ~3.0 Ga. Multigrain fractions from two samples yield upper intercepts between 2.0 and 2.3 Ga, but the scarcity of single grains of similar age suggests that these fractions comprise a mixture of < 2.0 and > 2.3 Ga grains. Zircons in these rocks generally overlap in age with (i) detrital zircons in metasedimentary rocks of the Yukon–Tanana terrane in eastern Alaska and Yukon, (ii) detrital zircons in strata of the Cordilleran miogeocline, and (iii) plutonic and gneissic rocks that intrude or are overlain by miogeoclinal strata. In addition, the pre-1.7 Ga grains overlap in age with dated crystalline rocks of the western Canadian Shield. These similarities raise the possibility that metaclastic rocks in the northern Coast Mountains accumulated in proximity to western North America. The younger zircon populations were likely shed from mid-Proterozoic to early Paleozoic igneous rocks that now occur locally (but may have been widespread) along the Cordilleran margin. Recognition of a continental margin assemblage of possible North American affinity in the Coast Mountains raises the possibility that some arc-type and oceanic terranes inboard of the Coast Mountains may be large klippen that have been thrust over the North American margin.

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