Paleomagnetism of the Quottoon plutonic complex in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia and southeastern Alaska: Evidence for tilting during uplift

R. F. Butler, G. E. Gehrels, M. L. Crawford, W. A. Crawford

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21 Scopus citations


The Quottoon plutonic complex (part of the great tonalite sill) was emplaced into eastern parts of the Coast shear zone along the west flank of the Coast Mountains. U-Pb crystallization ages range from 72.3 to 55.5 Ma. A regional compilation of K-Ar hornblende dates from the tonalite sill indicates a west to east decrease from ~160 Ma to ~154 Ma across the intrusive suite. Paleomagnetic samples were collected at 160 sites (≥ 8 samples per site) along six transects across the Quottoon complex between the Skeena River and Willard Inlet. Directions of characteristic remanent magnetization (ChRM) were successfully determined by principal component analysis of thermal demagnetization data for about half of the samples collected. Site-mean ChRM directions were determined for 56 sites from the Skeena River, Quottoon Inlet, Steamer Passage, and Wales Island transects, using criteria of ≥ 4 sample ChRM directions per site and 95% confidence limit (α95) ≤ 25°. For Filmore Island and Willard Inlet, few sites provided adequate determinations of site-mean ChRM directions, but many sample ChRM directions were well determined and consistent. The mean direction from the Skeena River - Quottoon Inlet collection is nearly concordant with the expected Eocene direction. Mean directions from other transects have clockwise-rotated declinations and inclinations that are shallower than the expected direction by up to 23°. Consistent with expectations for east-side-up tilting of crustal panels, sites from the western part of each transect have mean directions farther from the Eocene expected direction than do sites from the eastern part of the transect. The magnitude of east-side-up tilt varies along strike: The Skeena River to Quottoon Inlet segment experienced little or no tilt; Steamer Passage south of Portland Inlet records 15° tilt; north of Portland Inlet, tilts are 40° for Wales Island and 35° for Filmore Island; farther north, tilt decreases to 12° for Willard Inlet. Tilting was driven by Eocene extension of the Coast Mountains, with tilted crustal panels bounded by northwest-striking, east-side-down normal faults and northeast-striking transfer faults or shear zones. The ACCRETE seismic transect imaged east-dipping reflectors down to ~15 km depth, which likely correspond to the east-side-down normal faults. The most significant of the northeast-striking transfer structures must underlie Portland Inlet. Based on a tilting domino model, about 30% extension is required to produce the 40° tilt of crustal blocks at Wales and Filmore islands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1367-1385
Number of pages19
JournalCanadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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