The configuration of mid-ocean ridges subducted below North America prior to Oligocene time is unconstrained by seafloor isochrons and has been primarily inferred from upper-plate geology, including near-trench magmatism. However, many tectonic models are permitted from these constraints. We present a fully kinematic, plate tectonic reconstruction of the NW Cordillera since 60 Ma built by structurally unfolding subducted slabs, imaged by mantle tomography, back to Earth’s surface. We map in three-dimensions the attached Alaska and Cascadia slabs, and a detached slab below western Yukon (Canada) at 400−600 km depth that we call the “Yukon Slab.” Our restoration of these lower plates within a global plate model indicates the Alaska slab accounts for Pacific-Kula subduction since ca. 60 Ma below the Aleutian Islands whereas the Cascadia slab accounts for Farallon subduction since at least ca. 75 Ma below southern California, USA. However, intermediate areas show two reconstruction gaps that persist until 40 Ma. We show that these reconstruction gaps correlate spatiotemporally to published NW Cordillera near-trench magmatism, even considering possible terrane translation. We attribute these gaps to thermal erosion related to ridge subduction and model mid-ocean ridges within these reconstruction gap mid-points. Our reconstructions show two coeval ridge-trench intersections that bound an additional “Resurrection”-like plate along the NW Cordillera prior to 40 Ma. In this model, the Yukon slab represents a thermally eroded remnant of the Resurrection plate. Our reconstructions support a “northern option” Farallon ridge geometry and allow up to ∼1200 km Chugach terrane translation since Paleocene time, providing a new “tomographic piercing point” for the Baja-British Columbia debate.
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Research Article| October 19, 2020
Raising the Resurrection plate from an unfolded-slab plate tectonic reconstruction of northwestern North America since early Cenozoic time
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Spencer Fuston, Jonny Wu; Raising the Resurrection plate from an unfolded-slab plate tectonic reconstruction of northwestern North America since early Cenozoic time. GSA Bulletin doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/B35677.1
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