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Abstract

The Yellow Bank creek complex (YBCC) is a large, upper Miocene injectite complex, one of numerous injectites northwest of Santa Cruz, California. The feeder for these injectites is the Santa Margarita Sandstone, a shelfal sandstone unit that is also the reservoir rock in several exhumed oil fields. The impermeable cap rock for these oil fields, the Santa Cruz Mudstone, was breached by sand injectites, some of which reached the sea floor. Located near the edge of one of these oil fields, the YBCC is a dike-sill complex that shows evidence for multiple phases of injection by fluidized sand that was initially gas or water saturated and later possibly oil bearing. Vertical injection of a large sand dike along a fracture was followed by lateral injection of a sill from the dike along bedding planes in the Santa Cruz Mudstone. Flow differentiation during injection of fluidized sand into the sill formed centimeter-scale layering in its lower part. Subsequent emplacement of oil into this sand may have occurred by injection and by seepage that displaced pore water, producing sand masses that became preferentially cemented by dolomite. Some evidence suggests that the injection and cementation occurred at relatively shallow burial depths beneath the sea floor, with the injection resulting from a combination of possible seismic shaking and migration of overpressured fluids from more deeply buried parts of the Santa Margarita Sandstone. A pervasive lamination marked by limonite staining developed following uplift and subaerial exposure of the complex, possibly in a groundwater environment.

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