Neogene strata of the Tanana basin provide a long-term record of a northwardpropagating, transpressional foreland-basin system related to regional shortening of the central Alaska Range and strike-slip displacement on the Denali fault system. These strata are ???2 km thick and have been deformed and exhumed in thrust faults that form the foothills on the north side of the Alaska Range. The lower part of the sedimentary package, the Usibelli Group, consists of 800 m of mainly Miocene strata that were deposited in fluvial, lacustrine, and peat bog environments of the foredeep depozone of the foreland-basin system. Compositional data from conglomerate and sandstone, as well as recycled Upper Cretaceous palynomorphs, indicate that the Miocene foreland-basin system was supplied increasing amounts of sediment from lithologies currently exposed in thrust sheets located south of the basin. The upper part of the sedimentary package, the Nenana Gravel, consists of 1200 m of mainly Pliocene strata that were deposited in alluvial-fan and braidplain environments in the wedge-top depozone of the foreland-basin system. Compositional data from conglomerate and sandstone, as well as 40Ar/39Ar dating of detrital feldspars in sandstone and from granitic clasts in conglomerate, indicate that lithologies exposed in the central Alaska Range provided most of the detritus to the Pliocene foreland-basin system. 40Ar/39Ar dates from detrital feldspar grains also show that two main suites of plutons contributed sediment to the Nenana Gravel. Detrital feldspars with an average age of 56 Ma are interpreted to have been derived from the McKinley sequence of plutons located south of the Denali fault. Detrital feldspars with an average age of 34 Ma are interpreted to have been derived from plutons located north of the Denali fault. Plutons located south of the Denali fault provided detritus for the lower part of the Nenana Gravel, whereas plutons located north of the Denali fault began to contribute sediment during deposition of the upper part of the Nenana Gravel. This age distribution documented in detrital feldspars of the Nenana Gravel is interpreted as representing a progressive northward exhumation of plutons that were located south of the Pliocene Tanana basin. In contrast to previous studies, we interpret the Usibelli Group and Nenana Gravel to represent a continuum in the evolution of a transpressional foreland basin that began during Miocene time on the north side of the Alaska Range. Copyright ?? 2007 The Geological Society of America.
Additional Publication Details
Neogene transpressional foreland basin development on the north side of the central alaska range, usibelli group and nenana gravel, tanana basin
Special Paper of the Geological Society of America