Did the Bering Sea form as a Cenozoic backarc basin?

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Author(s): Stern, R. J.; Barth, G. A.; Scheirer, D. S.; Scholl, D. W.
Author Affiliation(s): Primary:
University of Texas at Dallas, Geosciences Department, Richardson, TX, United States
U.S. Geological Survey, United States
Volume Title: AGU 2012 fall meeting
Source: American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Vol.2012; American Geophysical Union 2012 fall meeting, San Francisco, CA, Dec. 3-7, 2012. Publisher: American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, United States
Note: In English
Summary: Understanding the origins of Bering Sea marginal basins (Aleutian, Bowers, and Komandorsky basins; AB, BB, KB) is key for reconstructing N. Pacific tectonic and magmatic evolution. New acquisitions and recompilations of MCS, OBS, and potential field data (Barth et al. poster. this session) for USGS Extended Continental Shelf project and selection of Aleutians as GeoPrisms Subduction Cycles and Deformation focus site stimulate reconsideration of BB, KB, and especially AB origins. AB has long been regarded as N. Pacific crust trapped when the Aleutian subduction began ∼45-50 Ma. BB and KB probably formed together as Miocene backarc basins. Presence of Oligo-Miocene arc volcanics on Bowers and Shirshov ridges suggests that these are remnant arcs, orphaned by AB and KB opening. Seven lines of evidence suggest that AB formed as a Paleogene backarc basin: 1) AB heatflow suggests an age of about 44 Ma (Langseth et al 1980 JGR). 2) Formation of NNW-trending rift basins on Bering shelf (Navarin, Pribilof, and St. George basins) in Paleogene time indicate extension at this time. 3) The early Paleogene "red unconformity" of the Beringian margin could indicate uplift, erosion, and subsidence associated with AB opening. 4) ∼N-S magnetic anomalies in AB contrasts with E-W Kula anomalies on N. Pacific, indicating that the two tracts of oceanic crust formed at different spreading ridges. 5) Thicker sediment in AB (2-4 km) vs. BB and KB (< 2km) indicates AB is older and is consistent with episodic and short-lived (∼20 m.y. duration) opening expected for backarc basins. 6) Aleutian arc magmatic activity began ∼50 Ma, about the same time that the Beringian arc shut down. This could also be reconciled by rifting of the Beringian arc to form the AB as backarc basin, accompanied by the displacement of arc magmatic activity to near the present Aleutian arc. 7) Formation of the Aleutian arc as ∼3900 km long, nearly perfect small circle is easiest to reconcile with an easily deformed backarc region, as might result from backarc basin opening. If the Aleutian arc formed by rifting of the Beringian margin then it is likely to contain some pre-50 Ma crust. The possibility that AB is a Paleogene backarc basin requires testing via IODP drilling through AB sediments and into oceanic crust.
Year of Publication: 2012
Key Words: 12 Stratigraphy, Historical Geology and Paleoecology
Record ID: 2014056977
Copyright Information: GeoRef, Copyright 2018 American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by, and/or abstract, Copyright, American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, United States

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