During Pliocene to Quaternary time, the central Aleutian forearc basin evolved in response to a combination of tectonic and climatic factors. Initially, along-trench transport of sediment and accretion of a frontal prism created the accommodation space to allow forearc basin deposition. Transport of sufficient sediment to overtop the bathymetrically high Amlia fracture zone and reach the central Aleutian arc began with glaciation of continental Alaska in the Pliocene. As the obliquely subducting Amlia fracture zone swept along the central Aleutian arc, it further affected the structural evolution of the forearc basins. The subduction of the Amlia fracture zone resulted in basin inversion and loss of accommodation space east of the migrating fracture zone. Conversely, west of Amlia fracture zone, accommodation space increased arcward of a large outer-arc high that formed, in part, by a thickening of arc basement. This difference in deformation is interpreted to be the result of a variation in interplate coupling across the Amlia fracture zone that was facilitated by increasing subduction obliquity, a change in orientation of the subducting Amlia fracture zone, and late Quaternary intensification of glaciation. The change in coupling is manifested by a possible tear in the subducting slab along the Amlia fracture zone. Differences in coupling across the Amlia fracture zone have important implications for the location of maximum slip during future great earthquakes. In addition, shaking during a great earthquake could trigger large mass failures of the summit platform, as evidenced by the presence of thick mass transport deposits of primarily Quaternary age that are found in the forearc basin west of the Amlia fracture zone.
- Received 30 April 2012.
- Revision received 20 June 2012.
- Accepted 3 October 2012.
- © 2012 Geological Society of America