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Synextensional Basin Evolution, Lower Miocene Clews Formation, Central Mojave Desert, California

FILLMORE, ROBERT P., and J. DOUGLAS WALKER, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

The lower Miocene Clews Formation at Alvord Mountain, Mojave Desert, California, consists of up to 400 m of coarsening-upward continental deposits. During the initial stage of basin development, the depocenter was delineated by a lacustrine system that was bound to the west by alluvial fans and graded northward into a south-flowing fluvial braidplain. Lacustrine strata, composed of claystone, siltstone and carbonate, suggest an initially closed basin. Conglomerate and sandstone to the west represent small, sheetflood-dominated fans and contain igneous clasts and southeasterly paleoflow indicative of a proximal, relatively low relief source in the western Alvord Mountains. Pebbly sandstone of the southward prograding braidplain have a metasedimentary provenance in the Paradise Range to the north.

The second stage of deposition was dominated by coarse conglomerate and megabreccia with west-southwesterly paleotransport indicators and a distinctive metaigneous petrofacies that indicate a provenance in the Cronese Hills, 8 km to the east. These strata reflect rapid westward progradation of debris flow-dominated alluvial fans that advanced across the facial braidplain, eventually onlapping the smaller Alvord Mountain sourced fans across the basin. Influx of sediment from the Paradise Range ceased.

Basin development resulted from regional northeast-southwest extensional deformation. The Alvord Mountain-Cronese Hills region was transported northeast as a single block on an east-dipping, low-angle normal fault associated with the Waterman Hills core complex 30 km to the west. Development of westward prograding fans is believed to record subsequence propagation of a northwest-trending, west-dipping normal fault associated with, but antithetic to the low-angle master fault.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91009©1991 AAPG-SEPM-SEG-SPWLA Pacific Section Annual Meeting, Bakersfield, California, March 6-8, 1991 (2009)