The ∼7000 m of Upper Triassic–Upper Cretaceous strata of the Wrangell Mountains basin depositionally overlie the allochthonous Wrangellia composite terrane in south-central Alaska. New sedimentologic, compositional, and geochronologic data from these strata provide a record of the migration of the terrane from an intraoceanic setting at low paleolatitudes (∼12°N) to its present position along the continental margin of southern Alaska (∼61°N). We recognize several distinct stages of basin development: (1) Upper Triassic–Lower Jurassic carbonate strata represent an intraoceanic carbonate platform built on a remnant volcanic arc at low paleolatitudes (∼12°N). (2) During the Middle to Late Jurassic, a subduction zone formed along the southern margin of the Wrangellia composite terrane, prompting development of an intraoceanic arc and backarc basin on top of the terrane. (3) A narrow thrust belt and retroarc foreland basin formed along the inboard margin of the arc during the latest Jurassic. The foreland basin and arc were subsequently folded, uplifted, and eroded during the latest Jurassic–Early Cretaceous as recorded by an angular unconformity and isotopic ages from clasts in conglomerate. Regional deformation of the foreland-basin strata, shortening and uplift of the Wrangellia composite terrane, and uplift and erosion of the Middle to Late Jurassic arc are interpreted to represent the initial collision between the terrane and the continental margin of western North America. (4) Following regional deformation, a new volcanic arc was constructed inboard (northward) of the Wrangell Mountains basin. Upper Lower to Upper Cretaceous siliciclastic strata were deposited by shallow- to deep-marine deposystems in a continental-margin forearc basin. Distributions of lithofacies types and formation-thickness changes across intrabasinal normal faults document synextensional deposition. (5) The final stage of basin development was characterized by shortening and coarse-grained sedimentation along a fault system that separated the trenchward (southern) margin of the forearc basin from the subduction complex. (6) The Wrangell Mountains basin arrived at its current position by northward translation along orogen-parallel strike-slip fault systems.
Comparison of the sedimentary record of the Wrangell Mountains basin, located on the outboard margin of the Wrangellia composite terrane, with the sedimentary record of the Nutzotin basin, located along the inboard margin of the terrane, demonstrates distinct changes in the locations of depocenters, the timing of deformation, and the composition of sediment. Similar stratigraphic and structural variations characterize outboard and inboard segments of the Wrangellia composite terrane in southeastern Alaska and coastal British Columbia.