Detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology and Hf isotope geochemistry of the Yukon-Tanana terrane, Coast Mountains, southeast Alaska

Mark E. Pecha, George E. Gehrels, William C. McClelland, Dominique Giesler, Chelsi White, Intan Yokelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Rocks of the SE Alaska subterrane of the Yukon-Tanana terrane (YTTs) consist of regionally metamorphosed marine clastic strata and mafic to felsic volcanic-plutonic rocks that have been divided into the pre-Devonian Tracy Arm assemblage, Silurian-Devonian Endicott Arm assemblage, and Mississippian- Pennsylvanian Port Houghton assemblage. U-Pb geochronologic and Hf isotopic analyses were conducted on zircons separated from 23 igneous and detrital samples in an effort to reconstruct the geologic and tectonic evolution of this portion of YTT. Tracy Arm assemblage samples are dominated by Proterozoic (ca. 2.0-1.6, 1.2-0.9 Ga) and Archean (2.7-2.5 Ga) zircons that yield typical cratonal eHf(t) values. Endicott Arm assemblage samples yield U-Pb ages that range from Late Ordovician to Early Devonian and eHf(t) values that range from highly juvenile to moderately evolved. Port Houghton assemblage samples yield similar Ordovician-Devonian ages and eHf(t) values, and also include early Mississippian zircons with highly evolved eHf(t) signatures. Comparison of these age-Hf patterns with data from nearby assemblages suggests the following: (1) Results from YTTs are similar to (or compatible with) available data from rocks of the Yukon-Tanana terrane in eastern Alaska, Yukon, and northern British Columbia (YTTn) and pericratonic strata in east-central Alaska (NAa). (2) YTTs contains abundant Late Ordovician-Early Devonian magmatism that is not recorded in YTTn and NAa. (3) The eHf(t) values from YTTs display two excursions from juvenile to evolved eHf(t) values, which are interpreted to record cycles of crustal thinning and then thickening within a convergent margin system. (4) Available data from both YTTs and YTTn support Neoproterozoic(?)-early Paleozoic positions along the northern Cordilleran margin. (5) The Late Ordovician-Early Devonian magmatic record of the southern Alexander terrane is very similar to that of YTTs, which raises the possibility that these assemblages evolved in the same convergent margin system along the northern (Alexander) and northwestern (YTT) margins of Laurentia. These results support a tectonic model in which: (1) YTTs formed outboard of (or northward along strike of) YTTn and NAa along the northern Cordilleran margin during Neoproterozoic(?)-early Paleozoic time; (2) initial subduction- related magmatism during Late Ordovician to Early Devonian time records a progression from crustal thinning to crustal thickening, and is preserved only in YTTs; (3) a second phase of magmatism records Middle-Late Devonian crustal thinning followed by early Mississippian crustal thickening; (4) YTTs and YTTn evolved as an intra-oceanic arc outboard of the Slide Mountain ocean basin during Carboniferous-Permian time and were accreted to the continental margin during Triassic time; and (5) YTTs is interpreted to have been displaced ~1000 km southward, from an original position outboard of YTTn/NAa to its present position outboard of the Stikine terrane, along a sinistral fault system of Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1556-1574
Number of pages19
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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