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ABSTRACT

This field trip provides a rare opportunity to visit outcrops and structures that highlight the geology, history, and natural beauty of Santa Cruz Island, a remnant of prehistoric California isolated off Santa Barbara. Santa Cruz Island provides some of the most southwestward positioned subaerial outcrops of the North American landmass, while displaying a rare glimpse of prehistoric coastal southern California and picturesque and seldom accessible exposures of Tertiary strata. Most of the stops are difficult to reach and many are closed to public access. Stops 1, 9, 9B, 9C, 13, and 13B are within the Channel Islands National Park, and access to the park portion of the island is by public boat transport (Island Packers) from Ventura Harbor to Prisoners Harbor. Stop 1 is near the pier at Prisoners Harbor and easily accessible; however, the other stops require roundtrip hikes of at least 10 miles from the pier. One of the goals of this four-day trip is to visit as much of the island’s varied geology as possible. A significant body of widely recognized geologic research has been done on the island from late Quaternary sea-level and climate changes to the tectonic evolution of the western North American plate boundary, and in particular the transformation of a subduction to transform plate boundary along a continental margin. Discovery that SCI and the western Transverse Ranges have rotated ~90° clockwise since the early Miocene (Kamerling and Luyendyk, 1979, 1985; Luyendyk et al., 1980) brought on an intense period of research on the island from the late 1970s through the 1990s. Much of this work has been published in both the formal and informal literature. Two decades later, this field trip is an opportunity to review much of these additions to geologic understanding with the advantage of gains in knowledge since then. The guide will emphasize each stop’s importance, offer questions for future research, and showcase the island’s earth science educational opportunities. This four-day trip requires 4WD vehicles and includes some 3–6 km (~2–4 mile) hikes.

Dedicated to Dr. Lyndal Laughrin, Santa Cruz Island Reserve Director, Emeritus, The Sage of Santa Cruz Island

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