Abstract

Miles Canyon basalt is an informal term used to describe numerous exposures of young alkaline olivine basalt flows in southern Yukon. The volcanic rocks are part of the Northern Cordilleran volcanic province. K-Ar and Ar-Ar whole-rock dates indicate that the Miles Canyon succession of flows at the Whitehorse Rapids are clearly Late Miocene in age (ca. 8.4 Ma). The largest exposure of the Miles Canyon basalt occurs at the Alligator Lake volcanic complex where two nearly concordant Pliocene Ar-Ar dates indicate eruption at ca. 3.2 Ma. K-Ar analyses from other sites yield dates of 2.4 and 7.1 Ma and indicate an episodic Neogene volcanic history for the region. There is no evidence of Quaternary or postglacial volcanism. The dates are older than assumed by previous workers, and in some cases the K-Ar dates are strongly discordant from Ar-Ar determinations. More accurate Ar-Ar determinations may result from the method's ability to select smaller amounts of better material for analysis. Excess 40Ar was not encountered. As a result, the accuracy of any single or several discordant K-Ar determinations for Neogene subaerial volcanic rocks, particularly low-K rocks such as basalts, should be questioned and resulting interpretations made with caution. Models accounting for the eruption of the Northern Cordilleran volcanic province lavas have typically relied upon extension along north-trending faults that were generated by stresses along the continental margin. However, we consider a slab window model which better accounts for the initiation and distribution of northern Cordilleran Neogene volcanic activity.

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