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Late Cenozoic tephrochronology of the Mount Diablo area within the evolving plate-tectonic boundary zone of northern California

September 27, 2021

We present a tephrochronologic/chronostratigraphic database for the Mount Diablo area and greater San Francisco Bay region that provides a spatial and temporal framework for geologic studies in the region, including stratigraphy, paleogeography, tectonics, quantification of earth surface processes, recurrence of natural hazards, and climate change. We identified and correlated 34 tephra layers within this region using the chemical composition of their volcanic glasses, stratigraphic sequence, and isotopic and other dating techniques. Tephra layers range in age from ca. 65 ka to ca. 29 Ma, as determined by direct radiometric techniques or by correlation to sites where they have been dated. The tephra layers are of Quaternary or Neogene age except for two that are of Oligocene age. We correlated the tephra layers among numerous sites throughout northern California. Source areas of the tephra layers are the Snake River–Yellowstone hotspot trend of northern Nevada, southern Idaho, and western Wyoming; the Nevadaplano caldera complex of central Nevada; the Jemez Mountains–Valles Caldera in northwestern New Mexico; the Southern Nevada volcanic field and related source areas in eastern California and west-central Nevada; the Quien Sabe–Sonoma volcanic centers of the California Coast Ranges; and the young Cascade Range volcanic centers of northeastern California and Oregon.