Thermotectonic History of the Kluane Ranges and Evolution of the Eastern Denali Fault Zone in Southwestern Yukon, Canada

Robert G. McDermott, Utah State University
Alexis K. Ault, Utah State University
Jonathan Saul Caine, U.S. Geological Survey
Stuart N. Thomson, University of Arizona

An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. Copyright (2019) American Geophysical Union.


Exhumation and landscape evolution along strike‐slip fault systems reflect tectonic processes that accommodate and partition deformation in orogenic settings. We present 17 new apatite (U‐Th)/He (He), zircon He, apatite fission‐track (FT), and zircon FT dates from the eastern Denali fault zone (EDFZ) that bounds the Kluane Ranges in Yukon, Canada. The dates elucidate patterns of deformation along the EDFZ. Mean apatite He, apatite FT, zircon He, and zircon FT sample dates range within ~26–4, ~110–12, ~94–28, and ~137–83 Ma, respectively. A new zircon U‐Pb date of 113.9 ± 1.7 Ma (2σ) complements existing geochronology and aids in interpretation of low‐temperature thermochronometry data patterns. Samples ≤2 km southwest of the EDFZ trace yield the youngest thermochronometry dates. Multimethod thermochronometry, zircon He date‐effective U patterns, and thermal history modeling reveal rapid cooling ~95–75 Ma, slow cooling ~75–30 Ma, and renewed rapid cooling ~30 Ma to present. The magnitude of net surface uplift constrained by published paleobotanical data, exhumation, and total surface uplift from ~30 Ma to present are ~1, ~2–6, and ~1–7 km, respectively. Exhumation is highest closest to the EDFZ trace but substantially lower than reported for the central Denali fault zone. We infer exhumation and elevation changes associated with ~95–75 Ma terrane accretion and EDFZ activity, relief degradation from ~75–30 Ma, and ~30 Ma to present exhumation and surface uplift as a response to flat‐slab subduction and transpressional deformation. Integrated results reveal new constraints on landscape evolution within the Kluane Ranges directly tied to the EDFZ during the last ~100 Myr.