Onshore evidence suggests that a plate is missing from published reconstructions of the northeastern Pacific Ooean in Paleocene- Eocene time. The Resurrection plate, named for the Resurrection Peninsula ophiolite near Seward, Alaska, was located east of the Kula plate and north of the Farallon plate. We interpret coeval near-trench magmatism in southern Alaska and the Cascadia margin as evidence for two slab windows associated with trench-ridge-trench (TRT) triple junctions, which formed the western and southern boundaries of the Resurrection plate. In Alaska, the Sanak-Baranof belt of near-trench intrusions records a west-to-east migration, from 61 to 50 Ma, of the northern TRT triple junction along a 2100-km-long section of coastline. In Oregon, Washington, and southern Vancouver Island, voluminous basaltic volcanism of the Siletz River Volcanics, Crescent Formation, and Metchosin Volcanics occurred between ca. 66 and 48 Ma. Lack of a clear age progression of magmatism along the Cascadia margin suggests that this southern triple junction did not migrate significantly. Synchronous near-trench magmatism from southeastern Alaska to Puget Sound at ca. 50 Ma documents the middle Eocene subduction of a spreading center, the crest of which was subparallel to the margin. We interpret this ca. 50 Ma event as recording the subduction-zone consumption of the last of the Resurrection plate. The existence and subsequent subduction of the Resurrection plate explains (1) northward terrane transport along the southeastern Alaska-British Columbia margin between 70 and 50 Ma, synchronous with an eastward-migrating triple junction in southern Alaska; (2) rapid uplift and voluminous magmatism in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia prior to 50 Ma related to subduction of buoyant, young oceanic crust of the Resurrection plate; (3) cessation of Coast Mountains magmatism at ca. 50 Ma due to cessation of subduction, (4) primitive mafic magmatism in the Coast Mountains and Cascade Range just after 50 Ma, related to slab-window magmatism, (5) birth of the Queen Charlotte transform margin at ca. 50 Ma, (6) extensional exhumation of high-grade metamorphic terranes and development of core complexes in British Columbia, Idaho, and Washington, and extensional collapse of the Cordilleran foreland fold-and-thrust belt in Alberta, Montana, and Idaho after 50 Ma related to initiation of the transform margin, (7) enigmatic 53-45 Ma magmatism associated with extension from Montana to the Yukon Territory as related to slab breakup and the formation of a slab window, (8) right-lateral margin-parallel strike-slip faulting in southern and western Alaska during Late Cretaceous and Paleocene time, which cannot be explained by Farallon convergence vectors, and (9) simultaneous changes in Pacific-Farallon and Pacific-Kula plate motions concurrent with demise of the Kula-Resurrection Ridge.
Additional Publication Details
Life and death of the resurrection plate: Evidence for its existence and subduction in the northeastern Pacific in Paleocene-Eocene time