Eocene Terrane Accretion in Northern Cascadia Recorded by Brittle Left-lateral Slip on the San Juan Fault

  • Nicolas Harrichhausen (Contributor)
  • Kristin D. Morell (Contributor)
  • Christine Regalla (Contributor)
  • Emerson M. Lynch (Contributor)
  • Lucinda J. Leonard (Contributor)



The San Juan fault, on southern Vancouver Island, Canada, juxtaposes the oceanic Wrangellia and Pacific Rim terranes in the northern Cascadia forearc, and has been suggested to play a role in multiple Mesozoic--Cenozoic terrane accretion events. However, direct observations of the San Juan fault's kinematics have not been documented and its exact role in accommodating strain arising from terrane accretion is unknown. To test if, how, and when the San Juan fault accommodated accretion-related strain, we use geologic mapping, kinematic inversion of fault-plane slickenlines, and dating of marine sediments to constrain the timing and direction of brittle slip of the San Juan fault. P- and T-axes from kinematic inversions indicate predominantly left-lateral slip. Left-lateral brittle faulting cross-cuts ~51 Ma magmatic intrusions and foliation, providing a maximum age of brittle deformation. The fault zone is non-conformably overlain by a >300 m-thick package of clastic marine shelf and slope sediments that are not left-laterally offset. A strontium isotope age of foraminifers helps constrain the depositional age of the sediments to late Eocene--early Oligocene, bracketing left-lateral slip to the Eocene. Eocene left-lateral slip is temporally and kinematically consistent with regional southwest--northeast compression during accretion of the Siletzia ocean island plateau, suggesting brittle slip on the San Juan fault accommodated strain resulting from the accretion of this terrane. This result does not support hypotheses that brittle slip along the San Juan fault directly accommodated earlier accretion of the Pacific Rim terrane to Wrangellia, instead, it offsets the older accretionary boundary between these two terranes.
Date made availableAug 12 2022

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