Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Chemical correlation of some late Cenozoic tuffs of Northern and Central California by neutron activation analysis of glass and comparison with X-ray fluorescence analysis

January 1, 1979

Glasses separated from several dacitic and rhyolitic late Cenozoic tuffs of northern and central California were analyzed by neutron activation for more than 43 elemental abundances. Eighteen elements--scandiurn, manganese, iron, zinc, rubidium, cesium, barium, lanthanum, cerium, samarium, europium, terbiurn, dysprosiurn, ytterbiurn, hafniurn, tantalurn, thorium and uranium--were selected as most suitable for purposes of chemical correlation on the basis of their natural variability in silicic tuffs and the precision obtainable in analysis. Stratigraphic relations between tuffs and replicate chemical analyses on individual tuffs make it possib1e to calibrate a quantitative parameter, the similarity coefficient, which indicates the degree of correlation for the tuffs studied. The highest similarity coefficient (0.99) was obtained for analyses of two tuffs (potassium-argon dated at about' 6.0 m.y.) exposed in the Merced(?) and Petaluma Formations of Sonoma County, which represent different paleoenvironments, shallow-water marine and fresh water or brackish marine, respectively. Corre1ation of these formations on the basis of criteria other than tephrochronoloqy would be difficult. Results of neutron activation analysis in general confirm earlier correlations made on the basis of analysis by X-ray fluorescence but also make it possible to resolve small compositional differences between chemically simi1ar tuffs in stratigraphic proximity. The Lawlor Tuff (potassium-argon dated at about 4.0 m.y.) is identified at two new localities: in a core sample obtained from a bore hole east of Suisun Bay, and from the Kettleman Hills of western San Joaquin Valley. This identification permits correlation of the uppermost part of the marine Etchegoin Formation in the San Joaquin Valley with the continental Livermore Gravels of Clark, the Tassajara Formation, and the upper part of the Sonoma Volcanics in the cel1tral Coast Ranges of California. A younger tuff near the top of the marine San Joaquin Formation in the Kettleman Hills has been identified at both new 1oca1ities .

Publication Year 1979
Title Chemical correlation of some late Cenozoic tuffs of Northern and Central California by neutron activation analysis of glass and comparison with X-ray fluorescence analysis
DOI 10.3133/pp1147
Authors Andrei M. Sarna-Wojcicki, Harry W. Bowman, Paul C. Russell
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Professional Paper
Series Number 1147
Index ID pp1147
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse