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Miller, E. L.; Verzhbitsky, V. E. (2009)
Languages: English
Types: Article
The Pevek region of Arctic Russia provides excellent beach cliff exposure of sedimentary and igneous rocks that yield detailed information on the nature, progression and timing of structural events in this region. Regional folding and thrust faulting, with the development of a south-dipping axial plane cleavage/foliation developed during N-S to NE-SW directed shortening and formation of the Chukotka-Anyui fold belt. This deformation involves strata as young as Valanginian (136–140 Ma, Gradstein et al., 2004). Fold-related structures are cut by intermediate to silicic batholiths, plutons and dikes of Cretaceous age. Reported K-Ar whole rock and mineral ages on the granitoids range from 144 to 85 Ma, but to the south, more reliable U-Pb zircon ages on compositionally similar plutons yield a much narrower age range of ~120–105 Ma (Miller et al., this volume) and a pluton in Pevek yields a U-Pb age on zircon of 108.1±1.1 Ma with evidence for inheritance of slightly older 115 Ma zircons. Magmas were intruded during an episode of E-W to ENE-WSW directed regional extension based on the consistent N-S to NNW-SSE orientation of over 800 mapped dikes and quartz veins. Analysis of small-offset faults and slickensides yield results compatible with those inferred from the dikes. Younger tectonic activity across this region is minor and the locus of magmatic activity moved southward towards the Pacific margin as represented by the <90 Ma Okhotsk-Chukotsk volcanic belt (OCVB). A lengthy period of uplift and erosion occurred after emplacement of Cretaceous plutons and produced the peneplain beneath the younger OCVB.

Based on our studies, we speculate that ~120–105 Ma magmatism, which heralds a change in tectonic regime from compression to extension, could represent one of the consequences of the inception of rifting in the Amerasian Basin of the Arctic, forming the Makarov Basin north of the Siberian shelf at this longitude. A synthesis of available seismic reflection, gravity and magnetic data for the offshore Siberian Shelf reveals a widespread, seismically mappable basement-sedimentary cover contact that deepens northward towards the edge of the shelf with few other significant basins. Various ages have been assigned to the oldest strata above the unconformity, ranging from Cretaceous (Albian – 112–100 Ma) to Tertiary (Paleocene–Eocene – ~60–50 Ma). The period of uplift and erosion documented along the Arctic coast of Russia at this longitude could represent the landward equivalent of the (yet undrilled) offshore basement-sedimentary cover contact, thus overlying sedimentary sequences could be as old as early Late Cretaceous. Although quite speculative, these conclusions suggest that land-based geologic, structural, petrologic and geochronologic studies could provide useful constraints to help resolve the plate tectonic history of the Arctic Ocean.
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