Mountain ridges in the western Yakutat microplate are riddled with swarms of antislope scarps and troughs. These landforms were previously interpreted as gravity failures (sackungen), but if partly or wholly tectonic (flexural slip or bending moment faults), they represent part of the strain budget from ongoing plate collision. To determine scarp origin, we mapped landforms, bedrock structure, and trenched scarps at Kushtaka Mountain and south of Martin Lake. The Kushtaka scarps paralleled west-dipping coal and sandstone beds in the Tertiary Kultieth Formation, and were spaced 35–60 m apart with heights of 1–4 m. Structural and paleosol relationships in a 6-m-long, 1.3-m-deep trench indicate the scarp was produced by Holocene creep on a normal fault underlying the scarp. The Kushtaka scarps thus represent toppling-style slip on bedding-plane faults in the eastern limb of a syncline, as the fold “unfolds” due to gravitational spreading. The Martin Lake scarps are more complex and include downslope-facing landslide scarps, upslope-facing flexural toppling scarps, and an oblique-slip tectonic scarp. A 2-m-deep trench across the WNW-trending tectonic scarp exposed the underlying bedrock fault plane with slickensides raking only 17°–20°, indicating mainly left-lateral slip on a sinistral-normal fault. In contrast, swarms of ENE-trending antislope scarps showed normal-oblique (dextral) slip. The two scarp sets may form a conjugate pair that simultaneously accommodates left-lateral tectonic slip and NNE-directed gravitational spreading. Our results, plus those recently published by Li et al. (2010), show that most antislope scarps in the western Yakutat microplate are formed by normal slip on bedding-plane faults that dip into the mountain, and represent gravitational spreading expressed as toppling-style failure or “unfolding” of strata on fold limbs. Conversely, the sinistral-oblique slip fault at Martin Lake is one in a family of east-trending faults accommodating accretion of the Yakutat microplate into the cuspate syntaxis of the Alaskan plate margin.
- Received 3 March 2010.
- Revision received 25 April 2011.
- Accepted 4 May 2011.
- © 2011 Geological Society of America