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Open-File Report 98-480

Surficial Geologic Map along the Castle Mountain Fault Between Houston and Hatcher Pass Road, Alaska

By Peter J. Haeussler

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (10.4 MB)Summary

The surficial geology of the map area is dominated by sedimentary deposits laid down during and after the Naptowne glaciation (Karlstrom, 1964) of late Pleistocene age. During this episode, a large valley glacier flowed westward down the Matanuska Valley along the southern flank of the Talkeetna Mountains. The youngest of two documented advances has been referred to as the Elmendorf stade, which reached its maximum extent about 12,000 radiocarbon years ago (Schmoll and others, 1972; Reger and Updike, 1983). Deposits from this stade in the map area include: glacial till (Qg), lateral moraine (Qml) and kame terrace (Qk) deposits. Older episodes of glaciation have been inferred by a number of workers (e.g., Karlstrom, 1964; Reger and Updike, 1983; Reger and Updike, 1989; Schmoll and Yehle, 1986). The ridge above and north of the map area, Bald Mountain Ridge, is rounded in contrast to higher areas of the Talkeetna Mountains to the east. Therefore, within the map area older glacial deposits (Qg2) are inferred to lie above the highest Naptowne deposits. After reaching its maximum extent the valley glacier stagnated (Reger and Updike, 1983), as indicated by a crevasse-fill-ridge complex south of Houston in the map area, perched drainages along the sides of the Talkeetna Mountains, and an esker (unit Qe in the middle of the western map area). The ancient stream deposits (unit Qad) are perched on the southern flanks of the Talkeetna Mountains and were deposited by westward flowing streams as the valley glacier stagnated. These sinuous ancient drainages commonly incised up to 20 m into the underlying glacial till. Because stream flow is not as high today as when the drainages formed, the modern streams flowing within these drainages are underfit, and the ancient drainage courses are commonly filled with peat deposits (Qp).

After ice of the Elmendorf stade melted, modern stream courses were established. These include the southward flowing streams on the flank of the Talkeetna Mountains as well as the west-southwestward flowing Little Susitna River. The Little Susitna River cut down through older river terrace deposits (Qat) to form the active alluvial plain (Qaa). Alluvium from the southward flowing streams (Qas) forms alluvial fans on top of, and presumably interfingering with, active alluvium along the Little Susitna River.

First posted May 27, 2003

Surficial Geology


Topography and Culture

Plot files of entire map

  • cmfmap RTL (11.1 MB)
    A Raster Transfer Language (RTL) file. It is the only plot file that will print the geology on the topography and culture base. RTL is based on Hewlett-Packard PCL (Print Control Language) and supports combined raster and vector printing.
  • cmfmap PS (12.7 MB)
    Postscript file. In order to get this file to print properly, the topo and culture had to be removed 

For additional information, contact:
Alaska Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
4210 University Dr. 
Anchorage, AK 99508

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Suggested citation:

Haeussler, P. J., 1998, Surficial Geologic Map along the Castle Mountain Fault Between Houston and Hatcher Pass Road, Alaska: U. S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 98-480,

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