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Two Oligocene conglomeratic units, one primarily nonvolcaniclastic and the other volcaniclastic, are preserved on the west side of the Jemez Mountains beneath the 14 Ma to 40 ka lavas and tuffs of the Jemez Mountains volcanic field. Thickness changes in these conglomeratic units across major normal fault zones, particularly in the southwestern Jemez Mountains, suggest that the western margin of the Rio Grande rift was active in this area during Oligocene time. Furthermore, soft-sediment deformation and stratal thickening in the overlying Abiquiu Formation adjacent to the western boundary faults are indicative of syndepositional normal-fault activity during late Oligocene–early Miocene time. The primarily nonvolcaniclastic Oligocene conglomerate, which was derived from erosion of Proterozoic basement-cored Laramide highlands, is exposed in the northwestern Jemez Mountains, southern Tusas Mountains, and northern Sierra Nacimiento. This conglomerate, formerly called, in part, the lower member of the Abiquiu Formation, is herein assigned to the Ritito Conglomerate in the Jemez Mountains and Sierra Nacimiento. The clast content of the Ritito Conglomerate varies systematically from northeast to southwest, ranging from Proterozoic basement clasts with a few Cenozoic volcanic pebbles, to purely Proterozoic clasts, to a mix of Proterozoic basement and Paleozoic limestone clasts. Paleocurrent directions indicate flow mainly to the south. A stratigraphically equivalent volcaniclastic conglomerate is present along the Jemez fault zone in the southwestern Jemez Mountains. Here, thickness variations, paleocurrent indicators, and grain-size trends suggest north-directed flow, opposite that of the Ritito Conglomerate, implying the existence of a previously unrecognized Oligocene volcanic center buried beneath the northern Albuquerque Basin. We propose the name Gilman Conglomerate for this deposit. The distinct clast composition and restricted geographic nature of each conglomerate suggests the presence of two separate fluvial systems, one flowing south and the other flowing north, separated by a west-striking topographic barrier in the vicinity of Fenton Hill and the East Fork Jemez River in the western Jemez Mountains during Oligocene time. In contrast, the Upper Oligocene–Lower Miocene Abiquiu Formation overtopped this barrier and was deposited as far south as the southern Jemez Mountains. The Abiquiu Formation, which is derived mainly from the Latir volcanic field, commonly contains clasts of dacite lava and Amalia Tuff in the northern and southeastern Jemez Mountains, but conglomerates are rare in the southwestern Jemez Mountains.

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