Neogene marine sediments of the West Coast of North America were deposited in a series of widely spaced basins that extended geographically from the western and northern Gulf of Alaska (60??N) to southern California (33??N). Rich molluscan faunas occur extensively throughout these deposits and form the basis for biostratigraphic schemes that are useful for correlating within and between individual basins. Early biostratigraphic work was concerned with faunas from particular horizons and with the stratigraphic range of diverse taxa, such as Pecten and Turritella, without reference to other fossil groups. Succeeding work increasingly dealt with the relationships of molluscan zones to benthic and, later, planktonic foraminiferal stages. In recent years the age limits of Neogene molluscan stages have become better documented by reference to planktonic microfossils from dated DSDP cores and onshore faunas. Neogene molluscan faunas from California, the Pacific Northwest states (Oregon and Washington), and southern Alaska have been treated separately due to differences in faunal composition and geographic isolation. As a result, a different biostratigraphic sequence has been described for each region. Pacific Northwest stages have been formally named and defined, and their names are also used informally for Alaskan faunas. California Neogene stages were proposed early in this century, are in need of redescription, and their usage is informal. Precise correlations between the three regional sequences have not yet been achieved, due to the low number of co-occurring species and the general lack of planktonic microfossils in these largely shallow-water faunas. The objectives of ongoing research include: fuller documentation of the faunas of California and Pacific Northwest stages; formal description of California stages; improved correlation between regional stage sequences; refinement of age estimates for stage boundaries; and, establishment of Neogene stages for Alaskan faunas. ?? 1984.
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Neogene molluscan stages of the West Coast of North America