Map courtesy Alaska Department of Natural Resources (fair use policy)
Alaska is a colossal state that contains some of the world's most notable geologic features. The long Aleutian Island chain sweeping to the west (cut off in this miniature version) is a volcanic arc fed by the subduction of the Pacific plate beneath the North American plate. (about arc volcanism)
Much of the rest of the state is built of chunks of continental crust carried there from the south, then plastered there where they compress the land into the highest mountains in North America. The rocks can be totally different, formed thousands of kilometers away and millions of years apart, in two mountain ranges right next to each other. The ranges of Alaska are part of a great mountain chain, or cordillera, that stretches from the tip of South America all the way up the west coast, then over into eastern Russia.
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