The Hayfork 15' quadrangle is located just west of the Weaverville 15' quadrangle in the southern part of the Klamath Mountains geologic province of northern California. It spans parts of six generally north-northwest-trending tectonostratigraphic terranes that are, from east to west, the Eastern Klamath, Central Metamorphic, North Fork, Eastern Hayfork, Western Hayfork, and Rattlesnake Creek terranes. Remnants of a once-widespread postaccretionary overlap assemblage, the Cretaceous Great Valley sequence, crop out at three localities in the southern part of the Hayfork quadrangle. The Tertiary fluvial and lacustrine Weaverville Formation occupies a large, shallow, east-northeast-trending graben in the south half of the quadrangle.
The small area of Eastern Klamath terrane is part of the Oregon Mountain outlier, which is more widely exposed to the east in the Weaverville 15' quadrangle. It was originally mapped as a thrust plate of Bragdon(?) Formation, but it is now thought by some to be part of an outlier of Yreka terrane that has been dislocated 60 km southward by the La Grange Fault. The Central Metamorphic terrane, which forms the footwall of the La Grange Fault, was formed by the eastward subduction of oceanic crustal basalt (the Salmon Hornblende Schist) and its overlying siliceous sediments with interbedded limestone (the Abrams Mica Schist) beneath the Eastern Klamath terrane. Rb-Sr analysis of the Abrams Mica Schist indicates a Middle Devonian metamorphic age of approximately 380 Ma, which probably represents the age of subduction.
The North Fork terrane, which is faulted against the western boundary of the Central Metamorphic terrane, consists of the Permian(?) North Fork ophiolite and overlying broken formation and melange of Permian to Early Jurassic (Pliensbachian) marine metasedimentary and metavolcanic rocks. The ophiolite, which crops out along the western border of the terrane, is thrust westward over the Eastern Hayfork terrane.
The Eastern Hayfork terrane is a broken formation and melange of volcanic and sedimentary rocks, including chert and blocks of amphibolite, limestone, and serpentinized ultramafic rocks. The chert contains radiolarians of Permian and Triassic ages, but none of clearly Jurassic age. In contrast, the cherts of the North Fork terrane contain Early and Middle Jurassic radiolarians in addition to those of Permian and Triassic ages; also, some limestones of the Eastern Hayfork terrane contain fossil faunas of Tethyan affinity, but those of the North Fork terrane do not.
The Western Hayfork terrane is an andesitic volcanic arc that was accreted to the Eastern Hayfork terrane. It consists mainly of metavolcaniclastic andesitic agglomerate and tuff, as well as argillite and chert, and it includes the dioritic Ironside Mountain batholith, which intruded during Middle Jurassic time. Two large patches of Western Hayfork terrane mapped in the central part of the Eastern Hayfork terrane may be exposed through windows in the Eastern Hayfork terrane, although the structural relation is not clear.
The Rattlesnake Creek terrane is a melange that occupies only a small area in the southwest corner of the Hayfork quadrangle; however, it is a major unit in the Hyampom 15' quadrangle to the west. It consists mainly of broken and sheared ophiolitic rocks of probable Permian or early Mesozoic age.
The Cretaceous Great Valley sequence overlap assemblage here postdates the Early Cretaceous (approximately 136 Ma) emplacement of the Shasta Bally batholith, which is widely exposed to the east in the Weaverville 15' quadrangle. The Great Valley sequence once covered much of the southern Klamath Mountains; however, in the Hayfork quadrangle, only three small patches remain near its southern boundary.
Weakly consolidated nonmarine sedimentary rocks of the Weaverville Formation of mid-Tertiary age, which contain abundant fossil plants, occupy a large, shallow, east-northeast-trending graben