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Effects of Tectonism, Eustatic Sea Level Fluctuations, and Climatic Changes on Paleogene Sedimentation in California

Tor H. Nilsen

Paleogene sedimentation in California was strongly influenced by syndepositional tectonism, eustatic sea level changes, and variations in climate. Tectonic activity was most important in controlling sedimentation in basins that developed in mobile areas such as the Salinian block, Coast Ranges, Transverse Ranges, southern California borderland, and along the continental slope adjacent to the trench that formed the California plate margin. Although plutonism had largely terminated in California by Paleogene time, continued uplift of the Mesozoic batholithic complexes of the Klamath Mountains, Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert, and Salinian block yielded abundant plutoniclastic detritus to Paleogene basins. Accretion of exotic terranes during the Paleocene and early Eocene, majo uplift of the Franciscan assemblage in various parts of California during the Eocene, syndepositional faulting in numerous areas, angular unconformities, and coarse clastic sequences that include alluvial-fan and fault-scarp breccias are features that indicate major tectonic control of sedimentation in Paleogene basins. Renewed volcanism, starting during the late Eocene in northern California in the ancestral Cascade volcanic arc, and in the late Oligocene in many other parts of California, began to supply abundant volcaniclastic sediments locally. In some relatively stable areas, such as the flanks of the Peninsular Ranges and parts of the San Joaquin and Sacramento basins, the effects of global sea level changes on the sedimentary record are easily discerned. Climatic cycles had signi icant control over Paleogene sedimentation in some of these stable areas.

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