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Title: Age and provenance of the Upper Cretaceous to Paleocene Valdez Group of the Chugach Terrane from the Richardson Highway and Northern Prince William Sound, Alaska.
The age and provenance of the southern Alaskan Campanian to Paleocene Valdez Group of the Chugach terrane and its relationship with the younger outboard Paleocene to Eocene Orca Group of the Prince William terrane is poorly understood but an important component of the Cordilleran collage (Plafker et al., 1994). The Valdez and Orca Groups are both part of the Chugach-Prince William terrane (CPW), which is a thick accretionary complex that extends 2200 km along the southern Alaskan margin (Fig. 1; Cowan, 2003). The deep-water turbidites of these terranes are quartzofeldspathic and volcanic-lithic sandstones and basaltic rocks (Dumoulin, 1987; Plafker et al., 1994). The CPW is intruded by near-trench plutons of the Sanak-Baranof belt (Davidson and Garver, 2017) and are believed to be related to a slab window that formed during subduction of Kula-Farallon or Kula- Resurrection spreading ridges (Marshak and Karig, 1977; Delong et al., 1978; Moore et al., 1983; Kusky et al., 1997a; Bradley et al., 2003; Haeussler et al., 2003). There are two hypotheses for the formation of the CPW along the North American Cordilleran margin: 1) either the CPW terrane formed in situ by subduction of the Resurrection plate (Haeussler et al. 2003); or 2) the rocks formed in the Pacific Northwest or California and were transported at least 2000 km along coastwise strike-slip fault systems (Cowan, 2003; Garver and Davidson, 2015). This study is an investigation into the age and provenance of the Valdez Group and its relationship with the Orca Group in the central Chugach Mountains using detrital zircon U-Pb dates. New detrital zircon U-Pb dates and their grain-age distributions from the Valdez and Orca Group turbidites are combined with dates from Kochelek et al. (2011), Amato et al. (2013), and Davidson and Garver (2017) and then synthesized to understand the difference in age between the units and provenance. New and existing U-Pb dates indicate maximum depositional ages (MDA) of the Valdez Group are concentrated in three groups: 84-78 Ma, 74-65 Ma, and 62-60 Ma. The youngest group of MDAs are age-correlative with the Orca Group but were collected from rocks in areas mapped as Valdez Group, indicating that either Orca Group rocks occur in the Valdez Group or the youngest Valdez Group rocks are stratigraphically equivalent to those of the oldest Orca Group. If the latter, the Valdez Group is not Campanian to Maastrichtian in age as has been traditionally viewed (Plafker et al., 1994) but is Upper Cretaceous to Paleocene and in part correlative to the lowest part of the Orca Group.  more » « less
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Proceedings of the Keck Geology Consortium
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National Science Foundation
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