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The late Neogene section in the Salton Trough, California, and along the lower Colorado River in Arizona is composed of marine units bracketed by nonmarine units. Microfossils from the marine deposits indicate that a marine incursion inundated the Salton Trough during the late Miocene. Water depths increased rapidly in the Miocene and eventually flooded the region now occupied by the Colorado River as far north as Parker, Arizona. Marine conditions were restricted in the Pliocene as the Colorado River filled the Salton Trough with sediments and the Gulf of California assumed its present configuration. Microfossils from the early part of this incursion include a diverse assemblage of benthic foraminifers (Amphistegina gibbosa, Uvigerina peregrina, Cassidulina delicata, and Bolivina interjuncta), planktic foraminifers (Globigerinoides obliquus, G. extremus, and Globigerina nepenthes), and calcareous nannoplankton (Discoaster brouweri, Discoaster aff.Discoaster surculus, Sphenolithus abies, and S. neoabies), whereas microfossils in the final phase contain a less diverse assemblage of benthic foraminifers that are diagnostic of marginal shallow-marine conditions (Ammonia, Elphidium, Bolivina, Cibicides, and Quinqueloculina).

Evidence of an earlier middle Miocene marine incursion comes from reworked microfossils found near Split Mountain Gorge in the Fish Creek Gypsum (Sphenolithus moriformis) and near San Gorgonio Pass (Cyclicargolithus floridanus and Sphenolithus heteromorphus and planktic foraminifers). The middle Miocene incursion may also be represented by the older marine sedimentary rocks encountered in the subsurface near Yuma, Arizona, where rare middle Miocene planktic foraminifers are found.

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