Abstract

In this paper we analyze recently acquired geophysical data from the northern Cordillera and their relation to the mapped geology. A prominent gravity high (> −45 mGal (1 Gal = 1 cm/s2)) coincides with a magnetic low and an aseismic region in west-central Yukon where the underlying geology is dominated by quartzo-feldspathic rocks having moderate densities. Extension (~15%), magmatic underplating, and accretion of the anomalous region onto oceanic crust are three possible explanations.Magnetic, gravity, and seismicity data all show significant differences in the physical state of the crust on either side of the Tintina Fault and, together with geological data indicating large offset, suggest it was once a major crustal-scale strike-slip fault. The new gravity data also delineate an arcuate zone of steep gradients (up to 1.4 mGal/km) in the miogeocline, which may correlate with a west-dipping Proterozoic basement ramp mapped on deep seismic sections farther to the north and a transition from thin (east) to thick sediment cover (west). Seismicity data show that current tectonic activity is concentrated along the Pacific – North America plate margin in southwestern Yukon and adjacent Alaska and, although there is a marked decrease in activity inland of this margin, notable concentrations occur along the Denali Fault System and in the eastern miogeocline. There is a distinct absence of earthquakes in parts of the Selwyn Basin and in the northern Yukon–Tanana Terrane. Limited field studies suggest activity is confined to the upper 10–15 km of the crust.

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