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ABSTRACT: Bathymetric Gradients Within a Paleozoic Island Arc, Southeastern Alaska (Alexander Terrane)

Constance M. Soja

Early to Late Silurian (Wenlock-Ludlow) limestones belonging to the Heceta Formation reflect bathymetric gradients within the ancient island arc exposed in the Alexander terrane of southeastern Alaska. These rocks record the earliest occurrence of widespread carbonate deposition in the region and represent the earliest foundation for shallow-water platform development within the arc. The excellent preservation of platform, platform margin, and slope deposits contrasts with the poor preservation of many marine sediments that originated within other island arcs. Hence, these limestones provide important insights into the styles, processes, and bathymetry of carbonate deposition in island arcs.

Carbonate depositional sites within the arc extended laterally from nearshore intertidal and relatively shallow subtidal zones of a marine platform, to the seaward margins of a rimmed shelf, and into deeper subtidal areas of a slope environment. Fossiliferous deposits that

originated on the platform comprise a diversity of shelly benthos, including corals and stromatoporoids in growth position. Dasycladacean algae, oncoids, and Amphipora also indicate shallow-water conditions. Organic buildups and reefs were constructed by cyanobacteria, massive stromatoporoids, corals, and algae at the platform margin. Deposition beyond the seaward edge of the shelf is evident from the carbonate turbidites that consist of skeletal debris of shallow-water derivation and an absence of coarse siliciclastic detritus. Sedimentation and resedimentation along a bathymetric gradient within the arc is especially well illustrated by the carbonate breccias that are enclosed within these deep subtidal sediments. They comprise detached stromatolites and clasts of shallow-water orig n that were derived from the platform and its margin during periodic slumping of the shelf edge.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91003©1990 AAPG Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, June 3-6, 1990