Terrane accretion forms lithospheric-scale fault systems that commonly experience long and complex slip histories. Unraveling the evolution of these suture zone fault systems yields valuable information regarding the relative importance of various upper crustal structures and their linkage through the lithosphere. We present new bedrock geologic mapping and geochronology data documenting the geologic evolution of reactivated shortening structures and adjacent metamorphic rocks in the Alaska Range suture zone at the inboard margin of the Wrangellia composite terrane in the eastern Alaska Range, Alaska, USA. Detrital zircon uranium-lead (U-Pb) age spectra from metamorphic rocks in our study area reveal two distinct metasedimentary belts. The Maclaren schist occupies the inboard (northern) belt, which was derived from terranes along the western margin of North America during the mid- to Late Cretaceous. In contrast, the Clearwater metasediments occupy the outboard (southern) belt, which was derived from arcs built on the Wrangellia composite terrane during the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous. A newly discovered locality of Alaska-type zoned ultramafic bodies within the Clearwater metasediments provides an additional link to the Wrangellia composite terrane. The Maclaren and Clearwater metasedimentary belts are presently juxtaposed by the newly identified Valdez Creek fault, which is an upper crustal reactivation of the Valdez Creek shear zone, the Late Cretaceous plate boundary that initially brought them together. 40Ar/39Ar mica ages reveal independent post-collisional thermal histories of hanging wall and footwall rocks until reactivation localized on the Valdez Creek fault after ca. 32 Ma. Slip on the Valdez Creek fault expanded into a thrust system that progressed southward to the Broxson Gulch fault at the southern margin of the suture zone and eventually into the Wrangellia terrane. Detrital zircon U-Pb age spectra and clast assemblages from fault-bounded Cenozoic gravel deposits indicate that the thrust system was active during the Oligocene and into the Pliocene, likely as a far-field result of ongoing flat-slab subduction and accretion of the Yakutat microplate. The Valdez Creek fault was the primary reactivated structure in the suture zone, likely due to its linkage with the reactivated boundary zone between the Wrangellia composite terrane and North America in the lithospheric mantle.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.
You do not currently have access to this article.