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Distribution of Disharmonic En Echelon Folds in Siliceous Beds of the Miocene Monterey Formation East of San Luis Obispo, California

MCLEAN, HUGH, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA

A discontinuous series of tight, locally en echelon, northwest-trending folds in largely siliceous shales of the Miocene Monterey Formation were delineated by recent detailed geologic mapping in the Lopez Mountain 7.5-min. quadrangle, San Luis Obispo County, California. Complexly folded strata within the informally named Lopez Mountain syncline represent the northern terminus of the broader and more gently folded Huasna syncline, which is located 25 km to the southeast.

Flank dips on many folds in the Lopez Mountain syncline generally range from 60 to 70 degree and locally are vertical or slightly overturned. Distances between fold axes range from as little as 100 m to as much as 1 km. Some folds can be traced for only a few hundred meters, whereas others extend for as much as 3 km. Folding of the siliceous upper part of the Monterey appears to be disharmonic with respect to stratigraphically lower calcareous and/or phosphatic shales. Unconformably underlying Mesozoic and Tertiary strata tend to be less deformed than most Monterey strata, with the exception of highly deformed Franciscan assemblage melange and serpentine that form the basement beneath the Lopez Mountain syncline.

The Lopez Mountain syncline lies between the Sur-Nacimiento fault zone on the east and the West Huasna fault zone on the west. Although the timing, magnitude, and sense of motion on the fault zones are poorly constrained, much of Monterey Formation deformation in the Lopez Mountain area probably occurred in latest Miocene or early Pliocene time, possibly as a result of differential wrench movement along the two adjacent fault zones.


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