The Sonya Creek volcanic field (SCVF) contains the oldest in situ volcanic products in the ca. 30 Ma–modern Wrangell Arc (WA) in south-central Alaska, which commenced due to Yakutat microplate subduction initiation. The WA occurs within a transition zone between Aleutian subduction to the west and dextral strike-slip tectonics along the Queen Charlotte–Fairweather and Denali–Duke River fault systems to the east. New 40Ar/39Ar geochronology of bedrock shows that SCVF magmatism occurred from ca. 30–19 Ma. New field mapping, physical volcanology, and major- and trace-element geochemistry, coupled with the 40Ar/39Ar ages and prior reconnaissance work, allows for the reconstruction of SCVF magmatic evolution. Initial SCVF magmatism that commenced at ca. 30 Ma records hydrous, subduction-related, calc-alkaline magmatism and also an adakite-like component that we interpret to represent slab-edge melting of the Yakutat slab. A minor westward shift of volcanism within the SCVF at ca. 25 Ma was accompanied by continued subduction-related magmatism without the adakite-like component (i.e., mantle-wedge melting), represented by ca. 25–20 Ma basaltic-andesite to dacite domes and associated diorites. These eruptions were coeval with another westward shift to anhydrous, transitional-tholeiitic, basaltic-andesite to rhyolite lavas and tuffs of the ca. 23–19 Ma Sonya Creek shield volcano; we attribute these eruptions to intra-arc extension. SCVF activity was also marked by a small southward shift in volcanism at ca. 21 Ma, characterized by hydrous calc-alkaline lavas. SCVF geochemical compositions closely overlap those from the <13 Ma WA, and no alkaline lavas that characterize the ca. 18–10 Ma eastern Wrangell volcanic belt exposed in Yukon Territory are observed. Calc-alkaline, transitional-tholeiitic, and adakite-like SCVF volcanism from ca. 30–19 Ma reflects subduction of oceanic lithosphere of the Yakutat microplate beneath North America. We suggest that the increase in magmatic flux and adakitic eruptions at ca. 25 Ma, align with a recently documented change in Pacific plate direction and velocity at this time and regional deformation events in southern Alaska. By ca. 18 Ma, SCVF activity ceased, and the locus of WA magmatism shifted to the south and east. The change in relative plate motions would be expected to transfer stress to strike-slip faults above the inboard margin of the subducting Yakutat slab, a scenario consistent with increased transtensional-related melting recorded by the ca. 23–19 Ma transitional-tholeiitic Sonya Creek shield volcano between the Denali and Totschunda faults. Moreover, we infer the Totschunda fault accommodated more than ~85 km of horizontal offset since ca. 18 Ma, based on reconstructing the initial alignment of the early WA (i.e., 30–18 Ma SCVF) and temporally and chemically similar intrusions that crop out to the west on the opposite side of the Totschunda fault. Our results from the SCVF quantify spatial-temporal changes in deformation and magmatism that may typify arc-transform junctions over similar time scales (>10 m.y.).
Geochemical and geochronological records of tectonic changes along a flat-slab arc-transform junction: Circa 30 Ma to ca. 19 Ma Sonya Creek volcanic field, Wrangell Arc, Alaska
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Samuel E. Berkelhammer, Matthew E. Brueseke, Jeffrey A. Benowitz, Jeffrey M. Trop, Kailyn Davis, Paul W. Layer, Maridee Weber; Geochemical and geochronological records of tectonic changes along a flat-slab arc-transform junction: Circa 30 Ma to ca. 19 Ma Sonya Creek volcanic field, Wrangell Arc, Alaska. Geosphere doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/GES02114.1
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