The framework of Quaternary faults in Alaska remains poorly constrained. Recent studies in the Alaska Range north of the Denali fault add significantly to the recognition of Quaternary deformation in this active orogen. Faults and folds active during the Quaternary occur over a length of ∼500 km along the northern flank of the Alaska Range, extending from Mount McKinley (Denali) eastward to the Tok River valley. These faults exist as a continuous system of active structures, but we divide the system into four regions based on east-west changes in structural style. At the western end, the Kantishna Hills have only two known faults but the highest rate of shallow crustal seismicity. The western northern foothills fold-thrust belt consists of a 50-km-wide zone of subparallel thrust and reverse faults. This broad zone of deformation narrows to the east in a transition zone where the range-bounding fault of the western northern foothills fold-thrust belt terminates and displacement occurs on thrust and/or reverse faults closer to the Denali fault. The eastern northern foothills fold-thrust belt is characterized by ∼40-km-long thrust fault segments separated across left-steps by NNE-trending left-lateral faults. Altogether, these faults accommodate much of the topographic growth of the northern flank of the Alaska Range.
Recognition of this thrust fault system represents a significant concern in addition to the Denali fault for infrastructure adjacent to and transecting the Alaska Range. Although additional work is required to characterize these faults sufficiently for seismic hazard analysis, the regional extent and structural character should require the consideration of the northern Alaska Range thrust system in regional tectonic models.
- Received 28 March 2011.
- Revision received 19 August 2011.
- Accepted 5 October 2011.
- © 2012 Geological Society of America