Holocene-Pliocene sequence sampled in northern Baja California. Geochemical data supported by petrographic, X-ray, and SEM observations of mineralogical transformations, fission-track radiography, and uranium decay series measurements. Results indicate that metal content of the studied samples is inherited from constituent detrital minerals and that reddening of whole-rock samples does not promote major open-system migration of heavy metals. The amount of secondary iron oxides and the fraction of whole-rock metals associated with the oxides increase during red-bed development. Results suggest that developed red beds which are well flushed by suitable pore fluids may be sources of significant quantities of heavy metals.--Modified journal abstract.