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Four-dimensional model of Cretaceous depositional geometry and sediment flux in the northern Great Valley forearc, California

Devon A. Orme
Devon A. Orme
Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717, USADepartment of Geological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA
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Stephan A. Graham
Stephan A. Graham
Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717, USA
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Publication history
07 February 201801 August 2018


The Great Valley forearc basin records Jurassic(?)–Eocene sedimentation along the western margin of North America during eastward subduction of the Farallon plate and development of the Sierra Nevada magmatic arc. The four-dimensional (4-D) basin model of the northern Great Valley forearc presented here was designed to reconstruct its depositional history from Tithonian through Maastrichtian time. Based on >1200 boreholes, the tops of 13 formations produce isopach maps and cross sections that highlight the spatial and temporal variability of sediment accumulation along and across the basin. The model shows the southward migration of depocenters within the basin during the Cretaceous and eastward lapping of basin strata onto Sierra Nevada basement. In addition, the model presents the first basement map of the entire Sacramento subbasin, highlighting its topography at the onset of deposition of the Great Valley Group. Minimum volume estimates for sedimentary basin fill reveal variable periods of flux, with peak sedimentation corresponding to deposition of the Sites Sandstone during Turonian to Coniacian time. Comparison of these results with flux estimates from magmatic source regions shows a slight lag in the timing of peak sedimentation, likely reflecting the residence time from pluton emplacement to erosion. This model provides the foundation for the first three-dimensional subsidence analysis on an ancient forearc basin, which will yield insight into the mechanisms driving development of accommodation along convergent margins.

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GSA Special Papers

Tectonics, Sedimentary Basins, and Provenance: A Celebration of the Career of William R. Dickinson

Geological Society of America
ISBN electronic:




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