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Geologic structure of the Yucaipa area inferred from gravity data, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, California

September 30, 2016

In the spring of 2009, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, began working on a gravity survey in the Yucaipa area to explore the three-dimensional shape of the sedimentary fill (alluvial deposits) and the surface of the underlying crystalline basement rocks. As water use has increased in pace with rapid urbanization, water managers have need for better information about the subsurface geometry and the boundaries of groundwater subbasins in the Yucaipa area. The large density contrast between alluvial deposits and the crystalline basement complex permits using modeling of gravity data to estimate the thickness of alluvial deposits. The bottom of the alluvial deposits is considered to be the top of crystalline basement rocks. The gravity data, integrated with geologic information from surface outcrops and 51 subsurface borings (15 of which penetrated basement rock), indicated a complex basin configuration where steep slopes coincide with mapped faults―such as the Crafton Hills Fault and the eastern section of the Banning Fault―and concealed ridges separate hydrologically defined subbasins.

Gravity measurements and well logs were the primary data sets used to define the thickness and structure of the groundwater basin. Gravity measurements were collected at 256 new locations along profiles that totaled approximately 104.6 km (65 mi) in length; these data supplemented previously collected gravity measurements. Gravity data were reduced to isostatic anomalies and separated into an anomaly field representing the valley fill. The ‘valley-fill-deposits gravity anomaly’ was converted to thickness by using an assumed, depth-varying density contrast between the alluvial deposits and the underlying bedrock.

To help visualize the basin geometry, an animation of the elevation of the top of the basement-rocks was prepared. The animation “flies over” the Yucaipa groundwater basin, viewing the land surface, geology, faults, and ridges and valleys of the shaded-relief elevation of the top of the basement complex.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Geologic structure of the Yucaipa area inferred from gravity data, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, California
DOI 10.3133/ofr20161127
Authors Gregory O. Mendez, Victoria E. Langenheim, Andrew Morita, Wesley R. Danskin
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2016-1127
Index ID ofr20161127
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center