Cenozoic stratigraphy and geologic history of the Tucson Basin, Pima County, Arizona

Water-Resources Investigations Report 87-4190




This report was prepared as part of a geohydrologic study of the Tucson basin conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the city of Tucson. Geologic data from more than 500 water supply and test wells were analyzed to define characteristics of the basin sediments that may affect the potential for land subsidence induced by groundwater withdrawal. The Tucson basin is a structural depression within the Basin and Range physiographic province. The basin is 1,000 sq mi in units area and trends north to northwest. Three Cenozoic stratigraphic unit--the Pantano Formation of Oligocene age, the Tinaja beds (informal usage) of Miocene and Pliocene age, and the Fort Lowell Formation of Pleistocene age--fill the basin. The Tinaja beds include lower, middle, and upper unconformable units. A thin veneer of stream alluvium of late Quaternary age overlies the Fort Lowell Formation. The Pantano Formation and the lower Tinaja beds accumulated during a time of widespread continental sedimentation, volcanism, plutonism, uplift, and complex faulting and tilting of rock units that began during the Oligocene and continued until the middle Miocene. Overlying sediments of the middle and upper Tinaja beds were deposited in response to two subsequent episodes of post-12-million-year block faulting, the latter of which was accompanied by renewed uplift. The Fort Lowell Formation accumulated during the Quaternary development of modern through-flowing the maturation of the drainage. The composite Cenozoic stratigraphic section of the Tucson basin is at least 20,000 ft thick. The steeply tilted to flat-lying section is composed of indurated to unconsolidated clastic sediments, evaporites, and volcanic rocks that are lithologically and structurally complex. The lithology and structures of the section was greatly affected by the uplift and exhumation of adjacent metamorphic core-complex rocks. Similar Cenozoic geologic relations have been identified in other parts of southern Arizona. (Author 's abstract)

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USGS Numbered Series
Cenozoic stratigraphy and geologic history of the Tucson Basin, Pima County, Arizona
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Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
iv, 20 p. :maps ;28 cm.