Abstract

We present new constraints on the crustal structure of the Yakutat terrane and evidence of the role of the Transition fault in southern Alaska. The Yakutat terrane south of Yakutat Bay includes crystalline crust that is 24–27 km thick overlain by sedimentary units that are 4.5–7.5 km thick. The Yakutat terrane crustal thickness and velocity structure are consistent with an oceanic plateau origin. The southern edge of the Yakutat terrane is bounded by the Transition fault, which is imaged as a near-vertical fault zone ∼1 km wide. The Transition fault is coincident with a dramatic change in Moho depth from 32 km for Yakutat oceanic plateau crust to 11.5 km for Pacific Ocean crust occurring over a horizontal distance of 0–5 km. There is no evidence for underthrusting of the Pacific Ocean crust beneath the Yakutat terrane at the Transition fault. We argue that the Yakutat terrane formed on the Kula or Farallon plate and was later juxtaposed next to younger Pacific Ocean crust by the Transition fault.

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