Thin, low-velocity crust beneath the southern Yukon-Tanana Terrane, east central Alaska; results from Trans-Alaska Crustal Transect refraction/wide-angle reflection data

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By: , and 

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Abstract

A seismic refraction/wide‐angle reflection survey for the Trans‐Alaska Crustal Transect program reveals a thin, reflective crust beneath the southern Yukon‐Tanana terrane (YTT) in east central Alaska. These data are the first detailed refraction survey of the southern YTT and compose a 130‐km‐long reversed profile along the Alaska and Richardson highways. Results from this study indicate that low‐velocity (≤ 6.4 km/s) rocks extend to approximately 27 km in depth. Based on these low velocities and an average Poisson's ratio of 0.23 determined for depths of ≤27 km, an overall silicic composition is interpreted for this portion of the crust beneath the Yukon‐Tanana terrane. From approximately 8 to 27 km depth the crust exhibits an increase in reflectivity. This middle to lower crustal reflectivity is modeled as alternating high‐ and low‐velocity lamellae with an average velocity of 6.1 km/s at 10 km depth to an average velocity of 6.4 km/s at 27 km depth. Beneath these reflective, low‐velocity rocks a 3‐ to 5‐km‐thick, 7.0 km/s basal crustal layer produces a prominent reflection that extends to offsets of up to 280 km. The crust‐mantle boundary, modeled at an average depth of 30 km, produces a variable PmP reflection, which may indicate lateral heterogeneity of this boundary, and a weak and emergent Pn refraction with a velocity of 8.2 km/s. We interpret the crustal section as follows: the low‐velocity rocks of the southern YTT extend from the surface to depths of approximately 10 km; underthrust Mesozoic flysch of the Kahiltna terrane, rocks of the Gravina arc, and basement of the Wrangellia(?) terrane extend from 10 to 27 km depth; a 3‐ to 5‐km‐thick layer of mantle‐derived mafic rocks, relic oceanic crust, or Wrangellia(?) terrane lower crust extends from 27 to approximately 30 km depth; a tectonically young Moho beneath the southern YTT is found at an average depth of 30 km; and it is underlain by a mantle that may be relatively cool and/or olivine rich. In this interpretation, the Yukon‐Tanana terrane is a thin‐skinned terrane. Our results indicate that tectonic, and possibly magmatic, underplating has played a significant role in crustal growth for central Alaska.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Thin, low-velocity crust beneath the southern Yukon-Tanana Terrane, east central Alaska; results from Trans-Alaska Crustal Transect refraction/wide-angle reflection data
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/91JB02881
Volume 97
Issue B2
Year Published 1992
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 22 p.
First page 1921
Last page 1942
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Southern Yukon-Tanana Terrane
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