A spreading center was subducted diachronously along a 2200 km segment of what is now the Gulf of Alaska margin between 61 and 50 Ma, and left in its wake near-trench intrusions and high-T, low-P metamorphic rocks. Gold-quartz veins and dikes, linked to ridge subduction by geochronological and relative timing evidence, provide a record of brittle deformation during and after passage of the ridge. The gold-quartz veins are typically hosted by faults, and their regional extent indicates there was widespread deformation of the forearc above the slab window at the time of ridge subduction. Considerable variability in the strain pattern was associated with the slab window and the trailing plate. A diffuse network of dextral, sinistral, and normal faults hosted small lode-gold deposits (<50,000 oz) in south-central Alaska, whereas crustal-scale dextral faults in southeastern Alaska are spatially associated with large gold deposits (up to 800,000 oz).
We interpret the gold-quartz veins as having formed above an eastward-migrating slab window, where the forearc crust responded to the diminishing influence of the forward subducting plate, the increasing influence of the trailing plate, and the thermal pulse and decreased basal friction from the slab window. In addition, extensional deformation of the forearc resulted from the diverging motions of the two oceanic plates at the margins of the slab window. Factors that complicate interpretations of fault kinematics and near-trench dike orientations include a change in plate motions at ca. 52 Ma, northward translation of the accretionary complex, oroclinal bending of the south-central Alaska margin, and subduction of transform segments. We find the pattern of syn-ridge subduction faulting in southern Alaska is remarkably similar to brittle faults near the Chile triple junction and to earthquake focal mechanisms in the Woodlark basin - the two modern sites of ridge subduction. Therefore, extensional and strike-slip deformation above slab windows may be a common occurrence.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Brittle deformation along the Gulf of Alaska margin in response to Paleocene-Eocene triple junction migration: in Sisson|
|Series title||Geological Society of America Special Papers|
|Publisher||Geological Society of America|
|Contributing office(s)||Alaska Science Center|
|Other Geospatial||Gulf of Alaska|