A small area north of Cave Creek, Arizona, contains key stratigraphic and structural information bearing on the Cenozoic development of the mountain and desert regions of Arizona. The area contains elements of the two physiographic regions. The northern and western parts are high mesas containing flat lying interbedded Tertiary volcanic and sedimentary strata. These deposits can be traced southward across the physiographic boundary where they are tilted and down faulted into the desert region.
Seven bedrock units were revealed by geologic mapping at 1:12,000 scale. They are, in ascending stratigraphic order: (1) a basement of Precambrian schist, granitic rock, and diabase (300 meters exposed), (2) fanglomerate derived from the crystalline rocks, of probable early and middle Oligocene age (0-152 m thick), (3) andesite of possible middle Oligocene age (225 m thick), (4) interbedded sediments and volcanics of Oligocene and Miocene age (30-320 m thick), and (5) resistant cliff forming basalt flows of middle Miocene age (125-180 m thick) that cap the high mesas.
Regional uplift of an exposed Precambrian terrane occurred ~38-30 m.y. ago, accompanied by erosion of the basement and deposition of fanglomerate. Regional volcanism began ~30 m.y. ago, apparently with the extrusion of andesite, followed by deposition of alkali basaltic flows, tuff, lake beds, and alluvium in one or more irregularly closed basins, formed as a result of faulting and volcanism. A transition from calcalkali and alkali volcanism to olivine basalt volcanism of the Hickey Formation occurred approximately IS m.y. ago. The interval 14.5-11 m.y. saw the deposition of olivine basalt flows of the New River Mesa formation, which cap the high mesas and correlate with basalt of the Hickey Formation. Topographic development of the mountain-desert region boundary occurred with collapse of the basalts of the New River Mesa formation into the desert region. This may have occurred at the time of initial subsidence of the Verde basin, ~7.5 m.y. ago.