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The Purisima Formation and related rocks (upper Miocene - Pliocene), greater San Francisco Bay area, central California; review of literature and USGS collection now housed at the Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley

Open-File Report 98-594

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Abstract

Sedimentary rocks more than 1.6 kilometers thick are attributed to the upper Miocene to upper Pliocene Purisima Formation in the greater San Francisco Bay area. These rocks occur as scattered, discontinuous outcrops from Point Reyes National Seashore in the north to south of Santa Cruz. Lithologic divisions of the Formation appear to be of local extent and are of limited use in correlating over this broad area. The Purisima Formation occurs in several fault-bounded terranes which demonstrate different stratigraphic histories and may be found to represent more than a single depositional basin. The precise age and stratigraphic relationship of these scattered outcrops are unresolved and until they are put into a stratigraphic and paleogeographic context the tectonic significance of the Purisima Foramtion can only be surmised. This paper will attempt to resolve some of these problems. Mollusks and echinoderms are recorded from the literature and more than 70 USGS collections that have not previously been reported. With the exception of one locality, the faunas suggest deposition in normal marine conditions at water depths of less than 50 m and with water temperatures the same or slightly cooler than exist along the present coast of central California. The single exception is a fauna from outcrops between Seal Cove and Pillar Point, where both mollusks and foraminifers suggest water depths greater than 100 m. Three molluscan faunas, the La Honda, the Pillar Point, and the Santa Cruz, are recognized based on USGS collections and published literature for the Purisima Formation. These biostratigraphically distinct faunas aid in the correlation of the scattered Purisima Formation outcrops. The lowermost La Honda fauna suggests shallow-water depths and an age of late Miocene to early Pliocene. This age is at odds with a younger age determination from an ash bed in the lower Purisima Formation along the central San Mateo County coast. The Pillar Point fauna contains only a single age diagnostic taxon, Lituyapecten purisimaensis (Arnold), which is reported as Pliocene in age, but it only occurs in the Purisima Formation, so its age here is an example of circular reasoning. However, based on tentative lithologic correlations this fauna may represent the same period of time as the upper part of the La Honda fauna. This fauna differs from either the La Honda or Santa Cruz faunas in that it represent significantly deeper water. The uppermost Santa Cruz fauna also suggests shallow-water depths and a possible age range of early to late Pliocene. The bivalve molluscan taxon Lyonsia, and gastropod taxon Rictaxis sp., cf. R. punctocaelatus (Carpenter) are reported here for the first time from the Purisima Formation.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
The Purisima Formation and related rocks (upper Miocene - Pliocene), greater San Francisco Bay area, central California; review of literature and USGS collection now housed at the Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
98-594
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1998
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
The Survey ; Information Service [distributor],
Description:
101 p. :maps ;28 cm. +2 folded data sheets (122 x 37 cm. and 122 x 78 cm.)