Journal article Open Access
McCrory, Patricia A.; Wilson, Douglas S.
The volcanic basement of the Oregon and Washington Coast ranges has been proposed to represent a pair of tracks of the Yellowstone hotspot formed at a mid-ocean ridge during the early Cenozoic. This interpretation has been questioned on many grounds, especially that the range of ages does not match the offshore spreading rates and that the presence of continental coarse clastic sediments is difficult to reconcile with fast convergence rates between the oceanic plates and North America. Updates to basement geochronology and plate motion history reveal that these objections are much less serious than when they were first raised. Forward plate kinematic modeling reveals that predicted basement ages can be consistent with the observed range of about 55–49 Ma, and that the entire basement terrane can form within about 300 km of continental sources for clastic sediments. This kinematic model indicates that there is no firm reason to reject the near-ridge hotspot hypothesis on the basis of plate motions. A novel element of the model is the Resurrection plate, previously proposed to exist between the Farallon and Kula plates. By including the defunct Resurrection plate in our reconstruction, we are able to model the Farallon hotspot track as docking against the Oregon subduction margin starting about 53 Ma, followed by docking of the Resurrection track to the north starting about 48 Ma. Accretion of the Farallon plate fragment and partial subduction of the Resurrection fragment complicates the three-dimensional structure of the modern Cascadia forearc. We interpret the so-called "E" layer beneath Vancouver Island to be part of the Resurrection fragment. Our new kinematic model of mobile terranes within the Paleogene North American plate boundary allows reinterpretation of the three-dimensional structure of the Cascadia forearc and its relationship to ongoing seismotectonic processes.