Location and Age Database for Selected Foraminifer Samples Collected by Exxon Petroleum Geologists in California

Open-File Report 2003-429




Most of the geologic maps published for central California before 1960 were made without the benefit of age determinations from microfossils. The ages of Cretaceous and Tertiary rocks in the mostly poorly exposed and structurally complex sedimentary rocks represented in the Coast Ranges are critical in determining stratigraphic succession or lack of it, and in determining whether the juxtaposition of similar appearing but different age formations means a fault is present. Since the 1930’s, at least, oil company geologists have used microfossils to assist them in geologic mapping and in determining the environments of deposition of the sediment containing the microfossils. This information has been so confidential that some companies even coded the names of foraminifers to prevent disclosure. In the past 20 years, however, the attitude of petroleum companies about this information has changed, and many of the formerly confidential materials and reports are now available. We report here on 1,964 Exxon foraminifer samples mostly from surface localities in the San Francisco Bay region, and elsewhere in California. Most but not all the samples were plotted on U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5’ topographic maps or on obsolete USGS 15’ maps. The information from the slides can be used to update geologic maps prepared without the benefit of microfossil data, to analyze the depth and temperature of ocean water covering parts of California during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras, and for solving nomenclature and other scientific problems. A similar report on more than 30,000 slides for surface samples collected by Chevron geologists has been released (Brabb and Parker, 2003), and another report provides information on slides for more than 2000 oil test wells in Northern California (Brabb, Powell, and Brocher, 2001).

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Location and Age Database for Selected Foraminifer Samples Collected by Exxon Petroleum Geologists in California
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Earthquake Science Center
Report: 5 p.; Excel Table
United States
Other Geospatial:
San Francisco Bay Region