Structural geology and geochronology of the Kluane schist, southwestern Yukon Territory
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In light of the recent increase of mineral exploration in the northern Cordillera, private, educational, and governmental agencies have been compelled to revisit and research areas of the Cordillera whose geologic evolution still remains enigmatic. The current study is concerned with better understanding how a region of the boundary zone separating the peri-Laurentian realm from the exotic, Insular realm evolved following deposition of the meta-sedimentary Kluane schist in the Late Cretaceous. The schist is a northwest striking 30 km wide and 160 km long belt of highly deformed greenschist to amphibolite facies meta-sedimentary rocks located east of Kluane Lake, southwestern Yukon Territory. These deformed sediments as well as numerous other deformed Jurassic-Cretaceous meta-sedimentary units present along the same boundary zone (north and south of the schist) represent important rocks that can help constrain how this part of the Cordillera has evolved since the mid-Mesozoic. To better understand how the Kluane schist evolved, detailed field mapping, petrography, and U-Pb geochronological studies were undertaken in the area encompassing the schist. This data is integrated with pre-existing and recently collected geologic databases from the region to propose a model for the tectonic and structural evolution of the Kluane schist. Conclusions drawn from this study indicate the Kluane sediments were likely deposited into a closing Late Cretaceous seaway from sources derived from Yukon-Tanana terrane (YTT) to the east. The basin into which the sediments were deposited represents a remnant ocean basin that was present between Insular terrane and YTT prior their amalgamation in the Jurassic. Thrusting of YTT over the Kluane schist basin resulted in burial, metamorphism, and ductile deformation of the schist. Contemporaneously, the early stages of the Ruby Range batholith (RRB) were intruding the schist as well as the schist/YTT contact. This batholith intruded syn- to post-tectonically from approximately ca. 77 Ma to 65 Ma and it is responsible for imparting a kilometer scale inverted contact metamophic aureole onto the Kluane schist wherein metamorphic grade decreases to the southwest. Subsequently, a gneissic sub-unit of the Kluane ‘schist’ was formed by partial melting of the RRB/Kluane schist contact. During this composite deformation event, the schist was transported to mid-crustal depths by an oblique sinistral shear zone. Shortly thereafter, the schist was exhumed and deformed by consistent northeast-over-southwest shearing. Regional scale, broad open folding of the schist ensued and likely occurred by flexural slip along foliation planes with low cohesion. Two syn- to post- tectonic igneous phases associated with Hayden Lake intrusive suite have been dated to ca. 55 Ma. This timing likely correlates with broad, open folding and a ‘late’ syn- to post-kinematic thermal overprint of the schist. The combined results of this study indicate that deformation and metamorphism of the Kluane schist was a long-lived event, extending from ca. 82 Ma to ca. 55 Ma.