The Upper Cretaceous Valdez Group represents the flysch facies of the Mesozoic Chugach terrane accretionary complex in southern Alaska. The Valdez Group is dominated by litharenite sandstone and argillite deposited as coherent beds, unlike the older McHugh Complex mélange and massive sandstones. Detrital zircons from five sandstones sampled along an ∼55 km transect through the Valdez Group were dated using U-Pb laser ablation–multicollector–inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry (LA-MC-ICP-MS). The youngest populations from the two oldest samples, located along strike from each other, were 82–81 Ma. Three samples across strike and outboard of the others are separated by ∼50 km, but each has a youngest population dated at ca. 68 Ma. All of these samples have major grain population ages that suggest erosion from the Coast Mountains Batholith, consistent with petrography and grain modes suggesting an arc source. No apparent age gap exists between the youngest McHugh Complex samples and the oldest Valdez Group samples, suggesting continuous deposition despite the different depositional and tectonic style. We propose a model in which the onset of coherently bedded flysch marks the transition from deposition in the trench or trench slope to deposition on the oceanic plate beyond the trench after it was filled at ca. 84 Ma, i.e., the time of the youngest mélange sedimentation. Preservation of coherent bedding resulted as large coherent blocks of Valdez Group rocks were imbricated into the subduction complex during continued subduction in Paleogene time.
- Received 10 December 2010.
- Revision received 5 May 2011.
- Accepted 18 May 2011.
- © 2011 Geological Society of America