The Upper Devonian and Lower Mississippian(?) Kanayut Conglomerate forms a major stratigraphic unit along the crest of the Brooks Range of northern Alaska. It crops out for an east-west distance of about 900 km and a north-south distance of about 65 km. The Kanayut is wholly allochthonous and has probably been transported northward on a series of thrust plates.
The Kanayut is as thick as 2,600 m in the east-central Brooks Range. It thins and fines to the south and west. The Kanayut forms the middle part of the allochthonous sequence of the Endicott Group, an Upper Devonian and Mississippian clastic sequence underlain by platform limestones of the Baird Group and overlain by platform limestone, carbonaceous shale, and black chert of the Lisburne Group. The Kanayut overlies the marine Upper Devonian Noatak Sandstone or, where it is missing, the marine Upper Devonian Hunt Fork Shale. It is overlain by the marine Mississippian Kayak Shale. The Kanayut Conglomerate forms the fluvial part of a large, coarse-grained delta that prograded to the southwest in Late Devonian time and retreated in Early Mississippian time.
Four sections of the Kanayut Conglomerate in the central Brooks Range and five in the western Brooks Range were measured in 1981. The sections from the western Brooks Range document the presence of fluvial cycles in the Kanayut as far west as the shores of the Chukchi Sea. The Kanayut in this area is generally finer grained than it is in the central and eastern Brooks Range, having a maximum clast size of 3 cm. It is probably about 300 m thick. The upper and lower contacts of the Kanayut are gradational. The lower Kanayut contains calcareous, marine-influenced sandstone within channel deposits, and the upper Kanayut contains probable marine interdistributary-bay shale sequences. The members of the Kanayut Conglomerate cannot be differentiated in this region.
In the central Brooks Range, sections of the Kanayut Conglomerate at Siavlat Mountain and Kakivilak Creek are typically organized into fining-upward fluvial cycles. The maximum clast size is about 3 cm in this area. The Kanayut in this region is 200-500 m thick and can be divided into the Ear Peak, Shainin Lake, and Stuver Members. The upper contact of the Kanayut with the Kayak Shale is very gradational at Kakivilak Creek and very abrupt at Siavlat Mountain.
Paleocurrents from fluvial strata of the Kanayut indicate sediment transport toward the west and south in both the western and central Brooks Range. The maximum clast size distribution generally indicates westward fining from the Shainin Lake region.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Sedimentology and stratigraphy of the Kanayut Conglomerate, central and western Brooks Range, Alaska; report of 1981 field season