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Harris, D.B., 2011

Mesozoic tectonic history and geochronology of the Kular Dome, Russia and Bendeleben Mountains, Seward Peninsula, Alaska

Bibliographic Reference

Harris, D.B., 2011, Mesozoic tectonic history and geochronology of the Kular Dome, Russia and Bendeleben Mountains, Seward Peninsula, Alaska: Morgantown, West Virginia, West Virginia University, Ph.D. dissertation, xix, 269 p., illust., (some color) maps.


The tectonic history responsible for formation of the major basins of the Arctic and movement of landmasses surrounding these basins remains unclear despite multidisciplinary efforts. Most studies focus on one of four potential movement pathways of the Arctic Alaska-Chukotka microplate during the Mesozoic and the relationship between this movement and formation of the Amerasian Basin. Due to difficulty in access and harsh climate of the Arctic Ocean, most geological studies focus on landmasses surrounding the Amerasian Basin. For this reason, we have conducted research in the Kular Dome of northern Russia and the Bendeleben Mountain Range of the Seward Peninsula, Alaska in an attempt to better constrain timing of emplacement of plutons in these areas and their associated tectonic conditions. For both areas, U-Pb zircon crystallization geochronology was performed on several samples collected from plutons responsible for gneiss dome formation during the Mesozoic. Dating of these plutons in tandem with field observation and thin section analysis of deformation suggests an extensional emplacement setting for both areas during the Middle to Late Cretaceous. In the Kular Dome, intrusion of the Kular pluton occurred from approximately 111-103 Ma along with extensional development of the nearby Yana fault, which was previously interpreted as a regional suture between deposits of the Kolyma-Omolon superterrane and passive-margin sequences of the Verkhoyansk Fold-Thrust Belt. Evidence for extensional emplacement of the Kular pluton includes top-down shear around mantled porphyroblasts plunging along gentle foliation away from the pluton and abundant low-offset normal faults in the area. The Kular Dome also falls into a north-south oriented belt of Late Cretaceous plutons interpreted to have been emplaced under regional extensional conditions based on geochemical discrimination diagrams. Detrital zircon geochronology was also performed on seven samples collected from Triassic sandstones and Jurassic greywackes near the Kular Dome and compared to results from previously studied surrounding regions in Russia and the Arctic Alaska-Chukotka microplate in order to better define the relationship between the Arctic Alaska-Chukotka microplate and northern Russia during the Mesozoic. Results suggest that though the Chukotkan portion of the Arctic Alaska-Chukotka microplate was separated from the Kular Dome area during the Triassic, by the Tithonian it shared similar source regions for detrital zircon populations. Based on detrital zircon data from Chukotka, the Kular Dome, and the In'Yali Debin area, a new tectonic model for the formation of the Amerasian Basin and structures within is proposed. In this new model, Chukotka separated from and moved independently of the North Slope of Alaska during the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic, experiencing strike-slip emplacement along the northern coast of paleo-Russia and closed the South Anyui Ocean via transpression to form the South Anyui suture. Geochronologic and geochemical results from the Bendeleben and Windy Creek plutons of the southeastern Seward Peninsula were also studied to better describe Arctic tectonic conditions during the Late Mesozoic. In this area, six samples were collected from the multiple lithologies seen within the Bendeleben and Windy Creek plutons and were also dated by zircon U-Pb geochronology and analyzed for their major and trace element geochemistry. Results suggest that the Bendeleben and Windy Creek plutons were emplaced during multiple extensionally driven pulses of magmatism above a southward-retreating, northward-subducting slab causing extension in the overlying crust from about 104 Ma to 83 Ma. The magma chamber at depth was experiencing continuous replenishment and liquid segregation causing stratification of the Bendeleben pluton. Magmas of the felsic cap, which now form the outer region of the Bendeleben pluton, were emplaced first, followed by subsequent intrusion of younger, mafic magma from below. Evidence for north-south directed extension during emplacement of the Bendeleben pluton was in the form of consistent east-west dike orientation in the Seward Peninsula, top-down shear in mantled garnet porphyroblasts from country rock surrounding the Bendeleben pluton, gentle foliation dip away from the pluton and stretching lineations around the pluton. Discrimination diagrams based on Rb, Nb and Y concentrations from bulk rock samples supports a collisional or volcanic arc province and is consistent with emplacement in an extensional environment above a subducting plate.

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