The mountainous archipelago of Haida Gwaii abuts the transpressive Pacific–North American plate margin north of the Cascadia subduction zone (northwestern North America). Topography on Haida Gwaii has been attributed to either dynamic uplift supported by subduction initiation or crustal shortening driven by shear adjacent the plate-bounding Queen Charlotte fault. In order to resolve how intraplate strain is accommodated, we obtained thermochronometry data from 20 bedrock samples on Haida Gwaii, including zircon (U-Th)/He, apatite (U-Th-Sm)/He, and apatite fission-track dates. With dates ranging from 5 to 60 Ma, we interpret exhumation rates increasing in proximity to the Queen Charlotte fault and leading to a maximum of 6 km of exhumation since 20 Ma. The onset of exhumation significantly predates the purported initiation of subduction, precluding a direct relationship between subduction initiation and the development of topography in the archipelago. Instead, exhumation onset correlates with passage of the Yakutat terrane, suggesting that North America was deformed and Haida Gwaii uplifted during terrane translation. Steady or slightly decreasing exhumation rate since the Miocene is at odds with estimated increases to intraplate convergence over this time, ruling out crustal shortening in Haida Gwaii as the only response to transpression between North America and the Pacific. From this, we conclude that plate convergence is accommodated through basin inversion and internal shortening in the North American and Pacific plates as well as potential underthrusting of the Pacific plate beneath North America.
Uplift and exhumation in Haida Gwaii driven by terrane translation and transpression along the southern Queen Charlotte fault, Canada
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Philip Schoettle-Greene, Alison R. Duvall, Ann Blythe, Eric Morley, William Matthews, Sean R. LaHusen; Uplift and exhumation in Haida Gwaii driven by terrane translation and transpression along the southern Queen Charlotte fault, Canada. Geology doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/G47364.1
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