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Geologic map of the Castle Rock 7.5' quadrangle, Arizona and California

August 21, 2018

The Castle Rock quadrangle is in the northeast corner of Chemehuevi Valley, California and Arizona. It includes the Colorado River’s entrance to the valley at the mouth of Topock Gorge and the northern outskirts of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe community of Havasu Lake, California. The map includes large parts of the Chemehuevi Indian Reservation and the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. Upon its exit through the mouth of Topock Gorge, the Colorado River enters Chemehuevi Valley where its floodplain (now submerged under Lake Havasu) is flanked by alluvial piedmonts of the Chemehuevi and Mohave Mountains to the west and east, respectively. This abrupt transition offers a useful perspective into the structural evolution of the Colorado River extensional corridor and of the Colorado River itself. It contains key structural and stratigraphic elements recording a complex history of Cretaceous plutonism and deformation, significant tectonic extension, volcanism, and sedimentation in the Miocene, and, ultimately, the evolution of the Colorado River from the latest Miocene to the present. Lake Havasu submerged the axis of Chemehuevi Valley following the completion of Parker Dam in 1938, and the Colorado River now feeds a verdant delta marsh that composes part of the map. Important bedrock units include the Cretaceous Chemehuevi Mountains Plutonic Suite, the 18.78 Ma Peach Spring Tuff, and thick overlying sequences of interlayered Miocene megabreccia and fanglomerate. The exposure of these units is closely linked to extension along the Chemehuevi-Whipple Mountains detachment fault system. The complex bedrock geologic framework serves as the structural and topographic foundation for the key strata chronicling the evolution of the lower Colorado River. Important stratigraphic units that bear on its evolution to the present day include the Bouse Formation, the Bullhead Alluvium, and the Chemehuevi Formation. The map area also contains the river’s modern delta at the head of Lake Havasu.