Abstract

A diamicton exposed at Deadman Pass in the central Sierra Nevada has been previously described as glacial till and dated at about 3 Ma. If till, the deposit would document an exceptionally old and previously unrecognized glaciation in the Sierra Nevada. The age and glacial origin of the diamicton at Deadman Pass has been widely cited in the geologic literature. Recent work, however, demonstrates that the diamicton is a residual lag and colluvial deposit formed by weathering of poorly consolidated Pliocene pyroclastic rocks that are unusually rich in coarse lithic basement clasts, including granitic and metamorphic rock types.

Evidence that the diamicton at Deadman Pass is not till includes the following: (1) distribution of the diamicton is limited to areas underlain by the distinctive clast-rich lower pyroclastic member of the quartz latite of San Joaquin Ridge, (2) clasts in the diamicton and in the lower pyroclastic member are identical, (3) clast lithologies in the diamicton reflect nearby sources, (4) glacial deposits are absent in well-exposed sections of the lower pyroclastic member, and (5) formation of diamicton from present-day weathering and mass wasting of outcrops of the lower pyroclastic member can be observed locally.

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