The Cuyama basin, located in the southern Coast Ranges of California southwest of the San Andreas fault, developed early in the history of the San Andreas transform system. The Miocene marine basin formed in a transtensional setting along a dextral strike-slip fault of the transform system following Oligocene non-marine basin formation in an extensional setting. The lower and middle Miocene Vaqueros Formation in the northwestern part of the basin, which represents the first of two transgressive-regressive cycles, is described here in terms of nine facies in two broad facies groups. The 400-m-thick Soda Lake Shale Member (of the Vaqueros) comprises deep-basin and starved-basin facies. A thin transgressive facies occurs locally at the base of the formation. The overlying Painted Rock Sandstone Member (of the Vaqueros), which is more than 2200 m thick and consists mostly of coarse-grained sandstone and pebbly sandstone, constitutes a delta complex of prodelta, slope channel, delta front, tide-influenced distributary channel, interdistributary bay, and fluvial channel facies. The basinal depositional system consisted of turbidite mud and sand, and hemipelagic and pelagic sediments of the basinal facies deposited in a rapidly subsiding basin. The delta depositional system consisted of the delta complex facies that prograded into the deep basin and had a steep prodelta slope that extended to bathyal depths. The delta is inferred to be a mixed fluvial-wave-dominated fan delta, analogous in its delta-front morphology and processes to a fjord delta, in which coarse sediment delivered to the delta front by braided streams was transported down the prodelta slope into deep water by sediment gravity flows. Transgression and rapid deepening of the basin in the early Miocene coincided with rapid tectonic subsidence. Deepening culminated with deposition of a starved-basin facies or condensed section at the time of maximum transgression, which was followed by the beginning of a regression and basin shallowing. The overall basin history and geometry of the northwestern Cuyama basin are typical of strike-slip basins. The initial rapid subsidence to bathyal depths at rates of more than 500 m/m.y. in the early Miocene is interpreted to be a result of extension at the releasing bend of a dextral strike-slip fault. ?? 1990.
Additional publication details
Coarse-grained deltaic sedimentation in the Miocene Cuyama strike-slip basin, California Coast Ranges