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Western Alaska Range Metallogeny and Tectonics

Project Chief

Peter J. Haeussler, 907-786-7447,


This project is designed to produce an improved model of the geologic framework underpinning the Western Alaska Range in south-central Alaska. Numerous ore deposits are present in this region, and most appear to be associated with magmatic events, but work needs to be done to identify the ages and types of mineral deposits in relation to their host rocks. In addition, detailed geologic studies are needed to delineate the magmatic, stratigraphic, and tectonic differences that distinguish this area from adjacent geologic terranes. Field mapping, geochronology, thermochronology, geochemical analyses, and geophysical data will all contribute to an improved understanding of the relationship between ore deposits and tectonic architecture that is critical to an assessment of the overall mineral potential of the area.


Relevance and Impact

There are many different types of mineral deposits present in the Western Alaska Range: plutonic gold, porphyry copper-gold (Pebble prospect), epithermal gold, tin-silver skarns, sedimentary barite, mafic hosted nickle-PGE, uranium-thorium REE, and even a diamond prospect. All of these have been the targets of recent exploration efforts, but their relationships to the regional magmatic belts and stratigraphy is not known. This work will put these mineral deposits into a regional magmatic and tectonic framework, which is the best predictor of mineral occurrence. It is our experience that providing such information will be of great value to mineral exploration companies and land managers.

It is in the interest of the USGS and the Mineral Resources Program to support research that contributes to our understanding of the framework geology of Alaska when those studies contribute to improved assessments of undiscovered resources. The proposed work will contribute to the long-term goals of the Mineral Resources Program, which strives to reduce the uncertainty in mineral-resource assessments. The Nation will have more accurate estimates of the national mineral endowment as improvements are made concerning the distribution of these deposits, their age, and genetic processes that define the localization of the mineralizing events.

Strategy and Approach

Because the USGS Mineral Resources Program is responsible for providing objective scientific information on mineral resources to Federal agencies, this project will develop tasks that address minerals and geoscience issues on all types of Federal lands. Using input from the Interagency Minerals Coordinating Group in Alaska, Federal land managers, Federal land user groups, and USGS scientists, these tasks will be prioritized based on their scientific soundness and impact, appropriateness to the USGS mission, and interest and cost-sharing abilities of other Federal agencies. USGS staff for each task will be based on required skills and availability of personnel. Tasks may include original research or analyses of existing data. Geologic mapping, geophysical and/or geochemical modeling, multispectral image analysis, geostatistics, and spatial analysis will be used to address the specific scientific issues in each region.


  1. Produce a new geologic map of the western Alaska Range.
  2. Metallogeny of the western Alaska Range.
  3. Petrogenesis of western Alaska Range igneous rocks.
  4. Geophysical framework of the western Alaska Range.
  5. Exhumation, erosion, and tectonics of the western Alaska Range.
  6. Framework geology for mineral assessment.


Detrital Zircon Geochronology of Cretaceous and Paleogene Strata Across the South-Central Alaskan Convergent Margin
U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1760-F (2009).

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Last Modified: 21 April 2017