The role of thrust faulting in the formation of the eastern Alaska Range: Thermochronological constraints from the Susitna Glacier Thrust Fault region of the intracontinental strike-slip Denali Fault system

Steven J. Riccio, Paul G. Fitzgerald, Jeff A. Benowitz, Sarah M. Roeske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Horizontal-slip along restraining bends of strike-slip faults is often partitioned into a vertical component via splay faults. The active Susitna Glacier Thrust Fault (SGTF), as shown by its initiation of the 2002 M7.9 Denali Fault earthquake, lies south of, and intersects the dextral strike-slip Denali Fault. Geochronology and thermochronology data from samples across the SGTF constrain the region's tectonic history and the role of thrusting in the formation of the eastern Alaska Range south of the Denali fault. U-Pb zircon ages indicate intrusion of plutons in the footwall (∼57 Ma) and hanging wall (∼98 Ma). These U-Pb zircon ages correlate to those from the Ruby Batholith/Kluane Terrane ∼400 km east along the Denali Fault, supporting geologic correlations and hence constraints on long-term slip rates. 40Ar/39Ar mica and K-feldspar data from footwall and hanging wall samples (∼54 to ∼46Ma) reflect cooling following magmatism and/or regional Eocene metamorphism related to ridge subduction. Combined with apatite fission track data (ages 43-28Ma) and thermal models, both sides of the SGTF acted as a coherent block during the Eocene and early Oligocene. Contrasting apatite (U-Th)/He ages across the Susitna Glacier (∼25Ma footwall, ∼15Ma hanging wall) suggest initiation of faulting during the middle Miocene. Episodic cooling and exhumation is related to thrusting on known or hypothesized faults that progressively activate due to varying partition of strain along the Denali Fault associated with changing kinematics and plate interaction (Yakutat microplate collision, flat-slab subduction and relative plate motion change) at the southern Alaskan plate margin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2195-2217
Number of pages23
JournalTectonics
Volume33
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

Keywords

  • Alaska
  • Denali fault
  • Exhumation
  • Strain partitioning
  • Thermochronology
  • Thrust fault

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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