Structural implications of an offset Early Cretaceous shoreline in northern California

GSA Bulletin
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Recognition of a nonmarine to marine transition in sedimentary rocks at Glade Creek and Big Bar in the southern Klamath Mountains permits reconstruction of the approximate position of a north-trending Early Cretaceous (Valanginian) shoreline. At the southern end of the Klamath Mountains, the shoreline is displaced 60 mi or more to the east by a west-northwest-trending fault zone. South of this fault zone the shoreline is buried at a much lower level beneath late Cenozoic rocks in the Great Valley. This large displacement probably is the result of differential movement along a system of left-lateral tear faults in the upper plate of the Coast Range thrust. The westward bulge of the Klamath arc also may have resulted from this faulting, as the amount and direction of the bulge is comparable with the displacement of the Valanginian shoreline.

Basal clastic strata at both Glade Creek and Big Bar contain abundant fresh-water or brackish-water clams, many of which consist of unabraded paired valves. These are conformably overlain by Valanginian marine strata containing Buchia crassicollis solida.

The position of the Valanginian shoreline beneath the Great Valley cannot be directly observed because it is buried by thick late Cenozoic deposits. However, its approximate westernmost limit must lie between the outcrop belt of marine strata on the west side of the valley and drill holes to basement on the east side, in which equivalent strata are absent.

Franciscan rocks containing Valanginian fossils occur 10 mi southwest of Glade Creek, but these are deep-water marine eugeosynclinal rocks that were deposited far to the west of the shoreline. The deformation responsible for the displacement of the Valanginian shoreline and juxtaposition of the Franciscan rocks and Klamath Mountain basement rocks involved eastward under-thrusting of the Franciscan beneath the Coast Range thrust contemporaneous with differential movement along tear faults within the upper plate.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Structural implications of an offset Early Cretaceous shoreline in northern California
Series title GSA Bulletin
DOI 10.1130/0016-7606(1971)82[815:SIOAOE]2.0.CO;2
Volume 82
Year Published 1971
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description 8 p.
First page 815
Last page 822
Country United States
State California