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The Great Valley basin holds a remarkably thick and complete sedimentary record of the history of the Mesozoic-Cenozoic active tectonic margin of central California (Dickinson and Seely, 1979). In addition, the fill of this basin hosts some of the most significant petroleum reserves in the United States (Graham, 1987). Thus, the excellent exposures of upturned basin fill, which crop out for 700 km along the western margin of the north-south elongate basin, afford superb opportunities to examine the depositional style and stratigraphic architecture of the Great Valley basin. Prominent among the strata of the basin are thick sequences of exceptionally thick-bedded, and coarse-grained deep-marine Cretaceous and Paleogene strata which crop out in the Diablo Range near Coalinga in central California (Figure 1). During the 1960’s-1980’s, these strata were studied extensively because of their importance as recorders of paleogeographic and paleotectonic conditions during a critical period in continental margin history (e.g, Dickinson and others, 1979; Nilsen and McKee, 1979; Nilsen, 1987; Moxon and Graham, 1987). Specifically, the Upper Cretaceous Panoche Group and Paleocene-Eocene Lodo Formation comprise deep-marine turbidite sediments which were deposited in a forearc basin setting. Over the 70 million year period recorded by these deposits, the Great Valley basin evolved from a broad, deep-water trough in the Cretaceous to a segmented, residual, borderland-style basin, the San Joaquin sub-basin of the Great Valley basin, during the Paleogene (Nilsen and Clarke, 1975; Dickinson and others, 1979).

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