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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


Volume: 56 (1972)

Issue: 3. (March)

First Page: 629

Last Page: 629

Title: Proposed Model for Cenozoic Sedimentary History of Bering Sea: ABSTRACT

Author(s): D. M. Hopkins, C. H. Nelson, D. W. Scholl

Article Type: Meeting abstract


The Bering Sea consists of an abyssal basin and a large continental shelf area. The basin apparently was isolated from the Pacific Ocean by the development of the Aleutian ridge near the end of Cretaceous time; the continental shelf area first became submerged near the middle of the Tertiary Period. It is postulated that the sediment eroded from Alaska and Siberia during Cenozoic time (1) was trapped mainly in subsiding basins on the Bering shelf during the Tertiary, (2) was collected mostly in continental rise and abyssal plain deposits of the deep Bering Sea during the low sea levels of the Quaternary, and (3) was transported generally from the Bering shelf northward through the Bering Straits during periods of high sea levels in Pleistocene and Holocene times.

Basin-filling was dominated by continental sedimentation in the early Tertiary and by marine deposition in the later Tertiary. Miocene uplift of the Alaska Range more than doubled the drainage area of the Yukon River and established it as the dominant river source (up to 90%) of the Bering Sea; this greatly increased sedimentation in the submergent basins. Subaerial drainage of this and other major river sediment sources during the glacial stages of the Pleistocene resulted in channeling great amounts of sediment across the shelf to the deep Bering Sea basin and cutting of the largest submarine canyons in the world.

Occurrence of the thin Holocene marine deposits near the present Yukon delta, of mainly relict sediments in the northern Bering Sea north of St. Lawrence Island, and of several meters of Holocene sediment in the Chukchi Sea permits speculation that now, as in the past, large volumes of Yukon sediment are flushed from the northern Bering Sea into the Chukchi Sea.

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