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Thin-Skinned Tectonics of Upper Ojai Valley and Sulphur Mountain Vicinity, Ventura Basin, California

Gary J. Huftile

The Upper Ojai Valley is a tectonic depression between opposing reverse faults. The active, north-dipping San Cayetano fault forms its northern border and has 5.8 km of dip-slip displacement at the Silverthread oil field and 2.6 km of displacement west of Sisar Creek. The fault dies out farther west in Ojai Valley. The southern border is formed by the late Quaternary Sisar-Big Canyon-Lion fault set, which dips south and merges into a decollement within the south-dipping, ductile Rincon Formation. Folds with north-dipping fold axes, including the Lion Mountain anticline and Reeves syncline, are probably Pliocene. During the late Quaternary, the Sulphur Mountain anticlinorium began forming as a fault-propagation fold, followed closely by the ramping of the south-dipping fau ts to the surface. One, the Lion fault, cuts the Pleistocene Saugus Formation. To the east, the San Cayetano fault overrides and folds the south-dipping faults. Cross-section balancing shows that the Miocene and younger rocks above the decollement are shortened 6.1 km more than the more competent rocks below. A solution to this bed-length problem is that the decollement becomes a ramp and merges at depth with the steeply south-dipping Oak Ridge fault. This implies that the Sisar, Big Canyon, and Lion faults are frontal thrusts to the Oak Ridge fault. Oil is produced primarily from Mohnian sands and shales north of the Big Canyon fault and from fractured Mohnian shale beneath the Sisar fault.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91035©1988 AAPG-SEPM-SEG Pacific Sections and SPWLA Annual Convention, Santa Barbara, California, 17-19 April 1988.