Alaska Science Center
Neotectonics of interior Alaska and the late Quaternary slip rate along the Denali fault system
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Full Publication: https://doi.org/10.1130/GES01447.1
Product Type: Journal Article
Authors: Haeussler, P. J., A. Matmon, D. P. Schwartz, and G. G. Seitz
The neotectonics of southern Alaska (USA) are characterized by a several hundred kilometers–wide zone of dextral transpressional that spans the Alaska Range. The Denali fault system is the largest active strike-slip fault system in interior Alaska, and it produced a Mw 7.9 earthquake in 2002. To evaluate the late Quaternary slip rate on the Denali fault system, we collected samples for cosmogenic surface exposure dating from surfaces offset by the fault system. This study includes data from 107 samples at 19 sites, including 7 sites we previously reported, as well as an estimated slip rate at another site. We utilize the interpreted surface ages to provide estimated slip rates. These new slip rate data confirm that the highest late Quaternary slip rate is ~13 mm/yr on the central Denali fault near its intersection with the eastern Denali and the Totschunda faults, with decreasing slip rate both to the east and west. The slip rate decreases westward along the central and western parts of the Denali fault system to 5 mm/yr over a length of ~575 km. An additional site on the eastern Denali fault near Kluane Lake, Yukon, implies a slip rate of ~2 mm/yr, based on geological considerations. The Totschunda fault has a maximum slip rate of ~9 mm/yr. The Denali fault system is transpressional and there are active thrust faults on both the north and south sides of it. We explore four geometric models for southern Alaska tectonics to explain the slip rates along the Denali fault system and the active fault geometries: rotation, indentation, extrusion, and a combination of the three. We conclude that all three end-member models have strengths and shortcomings, and a combination of rotation, indentation, and extrusion best explains the slip rate observations.