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Middle Pleistocene infill of Hinkley Valley by Mojave River sediment and associated lake sediment: Depositional architecture and deformation by strike-slip faults

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Abstract

Hinkley Valley in the Mojave Desert, near Barstow about 140 km northeast of Los Angeles and midway between Victorville Valley and the Lake Manix basin, contains a thick sedimentary sequence delivered by the Mojave River. Our study of sediment cores drilled in the valley indicates that Hinkley Valley was probably a closed playa basin with stream inflow from four directions prior to Mojave River inflow. The Mojave River deposited thick and laterally extensive clastic wedges originating from the southern valley that rapidly filled much of Hinkley Valley. Sedimentary facies representing braided stream, wetland, delta, and lacustrine depositional environments all are found in the basin fill; in some places, the sequence is greater than 74 m (245 ft) thick. The sediment is dated in part by the presence of the ~631 ka Lava Creek B ash bed low in the section, and thus represents sediment deposition after Victorville basin was overtopped by sediment and before the Manix basin began to be filled. Evidently, upstream Victorville basin filled with sediment by about 650 ka, causing the ancestral Mojave River to spill to the Harper and Hinkley basins, and later to Manix basin.

Initial river sediment overran wetland deposits in many places in southern Hinkley Valley, indicating a rapidly encroaching river system. These sediments were succeeded by a widespread lake (“blue” clay) that includes the Lava Creek B ash bed. Above the lake sediment lies a thick section of interlayered stream sediment, delta and nearshore lake sediment, mudflat and/or playa sediment, and minor lake sediment. This stratigraphic architecture is found throughout the valley, and positions of lake sediment layers indicate a successive northward progression in the closed basin. A thin overlapping sequence at the north end of the valley contains evidence for a younger late Pleistocene lake episode. This late lake episode, and bracketing braided stream deposits of the Mojave River, indicate that the river avulsed through the valley, rather than continuing toward Lake Manix, during the late Pleistocene. Two dextral strike-slip fault zones, the Lockhart and the Mt. General, fold and displace the distinctive stratigraphic units, as well as surficial late Pleistocene and Holocene deposits. The sedimentary architecture and the two fault zones provide a framework for evaluating groundwater flow in Hinkley Valley.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Middle Pleistocene infill of Hinkley Valley by Mojave River sediment and associated lake sediment: Depositional architecture and deformation by strike-slip faults
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Desert Symposium Inc.
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Against the current: Mojave River from sink to source; 2018 Desert Symposium Field Guide and Proceedings
First page 58
Last page 65