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Book Chapter

Early Mesozoic Convergent-Margin Paleogeography

January 01, 1990

The Eastern Klamath and Northern Sierra terranes of northern California consist of Devonian to Jurassic arc-related rocks that structurally and/or stratigraphically overlie Devonian(?) or older complexes that consist of quartzite, quartzofeldspathic sandstone, chert, and mafic and ultramafic rocks. These terranes lie within a regional belt of Paleozoic arc-related rocks that can be recognized from the Sierra Nevada to British Columbia. The Eastern Klamath and Northern Sierra terranes are geographically separate and have paleontologic linkage, but lack direct stratigraphic ties in strata of Late Devonian to Early Permian age.

This chapter describes new stratigraphic correlations and structural interpretations of rocks that lie in the northernmost part of the Sierra Nevada. These rocks include the Butt Valley block of the Northern Sierra terrane, and rocks herein interpreted as dismembered Eastern Klamath terrane. The rocks of Eastern Klamath terrane affinity, Soda Ravine block, occur as a tectonic sliver that lies to the west of the Butt Valley block.

The Soda Ravine block is about 2 to 4 km by 20 km and includes limestone lenses equivalent to zone A of the McCloud Limestone of the Eastern Klamath terrane, and upper Middle and Upper Triassic limestone, slate, siltstone, and pebble conglomerate. Similar Permian limestone with McCloud faunal affinities and slate-bearing slivers have been noted by previous workers in this area and to the south.

The Butt Valley block had previously been interpreted as part of the west limb of a regional anticline, the Almanor anticline. New mapping suggests that the block is not contiguous with rocks that lie to the east. The Butt Valley block includes the Devonian and Mississippian Taylor Formation, which is unconformably overlain by an Upper Triassic (Carnian and Norian) basal conglomerate and sandstone, which in turn is overlain by Upper Triassic limestone. The Upper Triassic limestone is overlain by a sparsely fossiliferous, lithic-volcaniclastic sequence containing poorly preserved Triassic or Early Jurassic, and probable Early Jurassic, ammonites and clams. This sequence is similar to conglomerate, Triassic limestone, and volcaniclastic rocks of the Jurassic Sailor Canyon Formation, which overlie a regional Late Triassic unconformity west of Lake Tahoe, thus expanding the known distribution of the unconformity in the Sierra Nevada. The Triassic unconformity overlies Carboniferous and older rocks around the North Fork American River area to the south, and overlies Devonian and older rocks on the Butt Valley block, but overlies Permian rocks east and southeast of the Butt Valley block. These relations suggest that either the Butt Valley block was part of a highland or uplifted block along the western part of the northern Sierra terrane or that the Butt Valley block previously lay closer to the North Fork American River area and has been translated northward by right-slip displacement.

Northern Sierra terrane east of the Butt Valley block consists of the Hough and Genesse blocks, which are separated by the Grizzly Mountain fault zone. The Grizzly Mountain fault zone is here interpreted to be a transpressional right-slip fault.

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Figures & Tables


GSA Special Papers

Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic Paleogeographic Relations; Sierra Nevada, Klamath Mountains, and Related Terranes

David S. Harwood
David S. Harwood
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M. Meghan Miller
M. Meghan Miller
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Geological Society of America
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Publication date:
January 01, 1990




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