The entire width of the North American Cordillera in Alaska is made up of "suspect terranes". Pre-Late Cretaceous paleogeography is poorly constrained and the ultimate origins of the many fragments which make up the state are unclear. The Prince William and Chugach terranes accreted since Late Cretaceous time and represent the collapse of much of the northeast Pacific Ocean swept into what today is southern Alaska. Greater Wrangellia, a composite terrane now dispersed into fragments scattered from Idaho to southern Alaska, apparently accreted into Alaska in Late Cretaceous time crushing an enormous deep-marine flysch basin on its inboard side. Most of interior eastern Alaska is the Yukon Tanana terrane, a very large entirely fault-bounded metamorphic-plutonic assemblage covering thousands of square kilometers in Canada as well as Alaska. The original stratigraphy and relationship to North America of the Yukon-Tanana terrane are both obscure. A collapsed Mesozoic flysch basin, similar to the one inboard of Wrangellia, lies along the northern margin. Much of Arctic Alaska was apparently a vast expanse of upper Paleozoic to Early Mesozoic deep marine sediments and mafic volcanic and plutonic rocks now scattered widely as large telescoped sheets and Klippen thrust over the Ruby geanticline and the Brooks Range, and probably underlying the Yukon-Koyukuk basin and the Yukon flats. The Brooks Range itself is a stack of north vergent nappes, the telescoping of which began in Early Cretaceous time. Despite compelling evidence for thousands of kilometers of relative displacement between the accreted terranes, and large amounts of telescoping, translation, and rotation since accretion, the resulting new continental crust added to North America in Alaska carries few obvious signatures that allow application of currently popular simple plate tectonic models. Intraplate telescoping and strike-slip translations, delamination at mid-crustal levels, and large-scale lithospheric wedging were important processes in northern Cordilleran tectonic evolution. ?? 1985.
Additional Publication Details
Accretion tectonics and crustal structure in Alaska