Controls on intrusion of near-trench magmas of the Sanak-Baranof Belt, Alaska, during Paleogene ridge subduction, and consequences for forearc evolution

Geological Society of America Special Papers
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A belt of Paleogene near-trench plutons known as the Sanak-Baranof belt intruded the southern Alaska convergent margin. A compilation of isotopic ages of these plutons shows that they range in age from 61 Ma in the west to ca. 50 Ma in the east. This migrating pulse of magmatism along the continental margin is consistent with North Pacific plate reconstructions that suggests the plutons were generated by migration of a trench-ridge-trench triple junction along the margin. On the Kenai Peninsula the regional lower greenschist metamorphic grade of the turbiditic host rocks, texture of the plutons, contact-metamorphic assemblage, and isotopic and fluid inclusion studies suggest that the plutons were emplaced at pressures of 1.5–3.0 kbars (5.2–10.5 km) into a part of the accretionary wedge with an ambient temperature of 210–300 °C. The presence of kyanite, garnet, and cordierite megacrysts in the plutons indicates that the melts were generated at a depth greater than 20 km and minimum temperature of 650 °C. These megacrysts are probably xenocrystic remnants of a restitic or contact metamorphic phase entrained by the melt during intrusion. However, it is also possible that they are primary magmatic phases crystallized from the peraluminous melt.

Plutons of the Sanak-Baranof belt serve as time and strain markers separating kinematic regimes that predate and postdate ridge subduction. Pre-ridge subduction structures are interpreted to be related to the interaction between the leading oceanic plate and the Chugach terrane. These include regional thrust faults, NE-striking map-scale folds with associated axial planar foliation, type-1 mélanges, and an arrayof faults within the contact aureole indicating shortening largely accommodated by layer-parallel extension. Syn-ridge subduction features include the plutons, dikes, and ductile shear zones within contact aureoles with syn-kinematic metamorphic mineral growth and foliation development. Many of the studied plutons have sheeted margins and appear to have intruded along extensional jogs in margin-parallel strike-slip faults, whereas others form significant angles with the main faults and may have been influenced by minor faults of other orientations. Some of the plutons of the Sanak-Baranof belt have their long axes oriented parallel to faults of an orthorhombic fault set, implying that these faults may have provided a conduit for magma emplacement. This orthorhombic set of late faults is interpreted to have initially formed during the ridge subduction event, and continued to be active for a short time after passage of the triple junction. ENE-striking dextral faults of this orthorhombic fault system exhibit mutually crosscutting relationships with Eocene dikes related to ridge subduction, and mineralized strike-slip and normal faults of this system have yielded 40Ar/39Ar ages identical to near-trench intrusives related to ridge subduction. Movement on the orthorhombic fault system accommodated exhumation of deeper levels of the southern Alaska accretionary wedge, which is interpreted as a critical taper adjustment to subduction of younger oceanic lithosphere during ridge subduction. These faults therefore accommodate both deformation of the wedge and assisted emplacement of near-trench plutons. Structures that crosscut the plutons and aureoles include the orthorhombic fault set and dextral strike-slip faults, reflecting a new kinematic regime established after ridge subduction, during underthrusting of the trailing oceanic plate with new dextral-oblique convergence vectors with the overriding plate. The observation that the orthorhombic fault set both cuts and is cut by Eocene intrusives demonstrates the importance of these faults for magma emplacement in the forearc.

A younger, ca. 35 Ma suite of plutons intrudes the Chugach terrane in the Prince William Sound region, and their intrusion geometry was strongly influenced by pre-existing faults developed during ridge subduction. The generation of these plutons may be related to the sudden northward migration of the triple junction at ca. 40–33 Ma, as the ridge was being subducted nearly parallel to the trench during this interval. These younger plutons are used to provide additional constraints on the structural evolution of the wedge. Late- to post-ridge subduction fabrics include a pressure solution cleavage and additional movement on the orthorhombic fault system. After triple junction migration, subduction of the trailing oceanic plate involved a significant component of dextral transpression and northward translation of the Chugach terrane. This change in kinematics is recorded by very late gouge-filled dextral faults in the late structures of the accretionary prism.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Controls on intrusion of near-trench magmas of the Sanak-Baranof Belt, Alaska, during Paleogene ridge subduction, and consequences for forearc evolution
Series title Geological Society of America Special Papers
DOI 10.1130/0-8137-2371-X.269
Volume 371
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center, Alaska Science Center Geology Minerals
Description 24 p.
First page 269
Last page 292
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Gulf of Alaska
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