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Serpentine Geoecology of Western North AmericaGeology, Soils, and Vegetation$
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Earl B. Alexander, Roger G. Coleman, Todd Keeler-Wolfe, and Susan P. Harrison

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195165081

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195165081.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 June 2021

Northern Alaska-Kuskokwim Mountains, Domain 10

Northern Alaska-Kuskokwim Mountains, Domain 10

22 (p.388) Northern Alaska-Kuskokwim Mountains, Domain 10
Serpentine Geoecology of Western North America

Earl B. Alexander

Roger G. Coleman

Todd Keeler-Wolfe

Susan P. Harrison

Oxford University Press

The ultramafic rocks in this domain are in the western part of the Brooks Range, the interior Alaska lowlands of the Koyukuk–Yukon Basin, the interior Alaska highlands of the Tanana–Yukon Upland, and the Kuskokwim Mountains. This domain extends east to the Seventymile River, a tributary of the Yukon River that is near the Canadian border, and presumably to the Clinton Creek area in the Yukon Territory. Although the highest elevations in the Brook Range are near 2700 m, those in the western mountains of the range are mostly <1400 m. Flatlands, hills, and low mountains dominate the Koyukuk–Yukon Basin and Tanana–Yukon Uplands, Elevations in the Kuskokwim Mountains are mostly <1000 m. Some of the mountains in uplands of the Tanana–Yukon Uplands are higher than 1600 m. Although the Brooks Range was glaciated during the Pleistocene, there was no glaciation in the Koyukuk–Yukon Basin, and only the higher elevations in the Tanana-Yukon Upland were glaciated during the Quaternary. Today, permafrost prevails throughout the Brooks Range, but it is discontinuous in the Koyukuk–Yukon Basin and Tanana–Yukon Upland and in the Kuskokwim Mountains (Ferrians 1965). Loess is extensive in the basins of interior Alaska and at lower elevations in the Kuskokwim Mountains, with some deposits >60 m thick (Péwé 1975). The climate is very cold throughout the domain, with severe winters and relatively short summers, although mean maximum summer (July) temperatures are >20°C (up to 24°C or 25°C) in the interior basins. With latitudes from 61°N to 68°N, days are very long during summers and very short during winters. The mean annual precipitation is 15–45 cm, with the greatest precipitation during summers. Even though the precipitation is low, the climate is not arid because evapotranspiration is limited by short and relatively cool summers. The freeze-free period is on the order of 60–90 days. The northern and interior Alaska ultramafics (serpentine) consist of Paleozoic and Mesozoic thrust slices emplaced onto Precambrian and Paleozoic marine sediments. They all belong to well-defined belts and are related to low-angle thrust faults or to later high strike–slip faults.

Keywords:   accreted terranes, barrens, chert, garnet, harzburgite, lichens, moss, nivation hollow, peridotite

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