The Franciscan Complex northwest of Pacheco Pass, California, includes three fault-bounded units, each characterized by a different deformational style and suite of metamorphic mineral assemblages. Structurally highest is jadeitic pyroxene-bearing metagraywacke semischist. The areally extensive Garzas tectonic mélange separates the semischist from the structurally lowest pumpellyite-bearing Orestimba metagraywacke. The Garzas mélange is representative of Franciscan mélanges in general. These mappable bodies have an internal fabric dominated by penetrative, mesoscopic shear fractures and contain tectonic inclusions of all sizes immersed in a pervasively sheared, generally fine-grained matrix. The shear fractures record brittle deformation of consolidated rock bodies. Many mélanges contain exotic inclusions, clearly not derived from adjacent units, and metamorphic mineral assemblages and textures indicate that they were metamorphosed before being tectonically mixed with more voluminous, generally lower grade, metagraywacke inclusions.

The structural units are grossly sheetlike in external form and are separated from one another by gently to steeply dipping major faults. Unlike low-angle thrusts in imbricated Cordilleran terranes, the faults do not systematically repeat or offset a normal stratigraphic sequence but rather juxtapose rock units that bear no apparent stratigraphic, deformational, or metamorphic relation to one another. The structural units were separately deformed and metamorphosed under a variety of conditions prior to their tectonic juxtaposition during late Mesozoic continental margin subduction. Field and petrographic evidence permit, but do not prove, the hypothesis that both the semischist and exotic, high-grade mélange inclusions once were more deeply buried and have been emplaced upward into their present anomalously shallow structural positions.

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