Seismic reflection and refraction and laboratory velocity data collected along a transect of northern Alaska (including the east edge of the Koyukuk basin, the Brooks Range, and the North Slope) yield a composite picture of the crustal and upper mantle structure of this Mesozoic and Cenozoic compressional orogen. The following observations are made: (1) Northern Alaska is underlain by nested tectonic wedges, most with northward vergence (i.e., with their tips pointed north). (2) High reflectivity throughout the crust above a basal decollement, which deepens southward from about 10 km depth beneath the northern front of the Brooks Range to about 30 km depth beneath the southern Brooks Range, is interpreted as structural complexity due to the presence of these tectonic wedges, or duplexes. (3) Low reflectivity throughout the crust below the decollement is interpreted as minimal deformation, which appears to involve chiefly bending of a relatively rigid plate consisting of the parautochthonous North Slope crust and a 10- to 15-km-thick section of mantle material. (4) This plate is interpreted as a southward verging tectonic wedge, with its tip in the lower crust or at the Moho beneath the southern Brooks Range. In this interpretation the middle and upper crust, or all of the crust, is detached in the southern Brooks Range by the tectonic wedge, or indentor: as a result, crust is uplifted and deformed above the wedge, and mantle is depressed and underthrust beneath this wedge. (5) Underthrusting has juxtaposed mantle of two different origins (and seismic velocities), giving rise to a prominent sub-Moho reflector. Copyright 1997 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Deep seismic structure and tectonics of northern Alaska: Crustal-scale duplexing with deformation extending into the upper mantle