Tectonically controlled fan delta and submarine fan sedimentation of late Miocene age, southern Temblor Range, California

Professional Paper 1442
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The Santa Margarita Formation in the southern Temblor Range, composed of conglomerate and subordinate sandstone, evolved as a large complex of fan deltas and submarine fans in late Miocene time. An 80 to 90-m.y.-old granitic basement of the Salinian block and an accompanying 23.5-m.y.-old volcanic field now located in the northern Gabilan Range and the Pinnacles area, respectively, were the primary source terranes. In general, the fan deltas crop out along the west side of the southern Temblor Range, whereas the proximal parts of the submarine fans crop out along the east side of the range. The fan deltas consist of subaerial topset beds and low-angle basinward-dipping subaqueous foreset beds. Strata interpreted to be topset beds are composed largely of conglomerate with thick to very thick horizontal beds and matrix-supported clasts. Most of the thick to very thick conglomerate beds are internally massive and disorganized. Strata interpreted as foreset beds are composed of thick-bedded, large-scale, low-angle, cross-stratified conglomerate and sandstone units which commonly are internally massive. Abundant molluskan macrofossils such as Ostrea and Pecten are present in the subaqueous foreset beds; many have been displaced downslope from their original site of deposition. Conglomerate- and sandstone-filled submarine canyons, through which coarse-grained detritus was transported to the adjacent submarine fans, locally have cut into the foreset beds of the fan deltas. These submarine canyon deposits are generally better stratified than adjacent foreset-bed deposits, and they consist of thick horizontal beds, internally massive or normally graded, arranged in fining- and thinning-upward sequences. Isolated and composite conglomerate- and sandstone-filled channels, which crop out on the east flank of the southern Temblor Range, are interpreted as proximal submarine-fan channel deposits. These channel-form conglomerate and sandstone deposits are characterized by thick, horizontal beds which are internally massive or normally graded containing division Ta, and locally Tb, of the Bouma sequence. Sparse calcareous foraminifers collected from diatomaceous interbeds suggest that these fan channels were deposited in upper bathyal water depths. Subaerial and regenerated subaqueous debris flows probably formed the bulk of the Santa Margarita fan delta and submarine fan system. Santa Margarita debris flows ranged from the mudflow variety to the cataclysmic debris-avalanche variety.

The cogenetic Republic and Williams sandstones of local usage, located on the east side of the southern Temblor Range, are slightly older and finer grained than the Santa Margarita Formation. These units, containing well-graded sandstones, fining- and thinning-upward and coarsening- and thickening-upward sandstone sequences, thick-bedded tabular and channel-shaped sandstones, a mixture of shallow- and deep-water foraminifers, and a fan-shaped geometry in the subsurface, are interpreted as submarine fan deposits.

Sedimentation associated with the Santa Margarita Formation was intimately related to the growing southern Temblor Range anticlinorium and the right-laterally shifting Salinian block along the San Andreas fault. Examples of control exerted on Santa Margarita sedimentation by the southern Temblor Range anticlinorium include the preferential accumulation of sediments along the flanks of the anticlinorium, thickening of strata on the downthrown side of the Recruit Pass fault and on flanks of selected anticlines, intraformational unconformities, and possible partial blockage of the eastward-prograding fan deltas by the Recruit Pass fault. East of the growing southern Temblor Range anticlinorium, the distal ends of the Santa Margarita submarine fans were deflected northwestward by the growing Buena Vista Hills anticline. Several examples of well-defined diachronous sedimentation, where conglomerates and sandstones of the Santa Margarita Formation occupy progressively higher stratigraphic levels in a northwest direction subparallel to the trace of the San Andreas fault, strongly imply that the Salinian basement terrane was shifting in a right-lateral sense during Santa Margarita sedimentation.

Regional factors of importance in focusing conglomerate sedimentation on the southern Temblor Range locale for a 2- to 3-m.y. period in the late Mohnian were right-lateral oblique slip on the San Andreas fault, formation of the "big bend" in the San Andreas fault by left-lateral slip along the Garlock and White Wolf faults, and the partial overlap of the Salinian and Franciscan assemblage basement rocks.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Tectonically controlled fan delta and submarine fan sedimentation of late Miocene age, southern Temblor Range, California
Series title Professional Paper
Series number 1442
DOI 10.3133/pp1442
Year Published 1989
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description Report: vii, 59 p.; 5 Plates: 56.10 x 40.00 inches or smaller
Country United States
State California
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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