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Stratigraphy and paleoenvironment of Miocene phosphatic rocks in the East San Francisco Bay region, California

January 1, 1994

A stratigraphic study of the Monterey Group in the East San Francisco Bay Region, California, indicates that a depositional basin began to subside in early to middle Miocene time. The Miocene sea transgressed from the west or southwest, and the area subsided to a possible water depth of 500 to 2,500 m.

The Monterey Group within the study area is a time-transgressive sequence of six sandstone and shale formations. Stratigraphic cycles of interbedded sandstone and shale formations are related to the amount of terrigenous sediment input into the basin as well as the depositional environment. During periods of low terrigenous sedimentation, biogenetic sedimentation in the form of diatomite layers were interbedded with hemipelagic muds and thin turbidite sands. These diatom-rich sediments were probably deposited within the upper bathyal zone (180 to 500 m) and, during lithification, diagenetically altered to form siliceous shales and cherts. As terrigenous sedimentation increased, probably due to periodic uplift east of the study area, biogenetic sedimentation was masked until finer grained sediment at a lower rate of deposition reoccurred. As the basin filled and a higher energy environment prevailed; coarse-grained sediment was again deposited until a lower energy environment resumed. Three types of inorganic phosphate are present within the study area: nodular, Pelletal, and pebbles of sandy phosphatic mudstone. The nodular phosphate is associated with the siliceous shale formations and formed within diatomite layers before compaction and lithification. The other two types of phosphate are found within the sandstone formations and probably originated in a shallower, higher energy environment than the siliceous shales.

Faulting was active during middle to late Miocene time. The change in stratigraphic thickness across the Mission fault is 350 m which may approximate the vertical (?) displacement along this fault. This displacement took place in middle to upper Miocene time and apparently caused erosion of the upper formations of the Monterey Group on the west side of the Mission fault before the Briones Formation was deposited in late Miocene time. Depositional thinning of the Monterey Group in the southern portion of the study area may imply that the Hayward and Calaveras faults were also active at this time.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1979
Title Stratigraphy and paleoenvironment of Miocene phosphatic rocks in the East San Francisco Bay region, California
DOI 10.3133/ofr791570
Authors James M. Hill
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 79-1570
Index ID ofr791570
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization