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Stratigraphy and tectonic history of the Tucson Basin, Pima County, Arizona, based on the Exxon state (32)-1 well

February 17, 2005

The Tucson Basin is a relatively large late Cenozoic extensional basin developed in the upper plate of the Catalina detachment fault in the southern Basin and Range Province, southeastern Arizona. In 1972, Exxon Company, U.S.A., drilled an exploration well (Exxon State (32)-1) near the center of the Tucson Basin that penetrated 3,658 m (12,001 ft) of sedimentary and volcanic rocks above granitoid basement. Detailed study of cuttings and geophysical logs of the Exxon State well has led to revision of the previously reported subsurface stratigraphy for the basin and provided new insight into its depositional and tectonic history. There is evidence that detachment faulting and uplift of the adjacent Catalina core complex on the north have affected the subsurface geometry of the basin. The gravity anomaly map of the Tucson Basin indicates that the locations of subbasins along the north-trending axis of the main basin coincide with the intersection of this axis with west-southwest projections of synforms in the adjacent core complex. In other words, the subbasins overlie synforms and the ridges between subbasins overlie antiforms. The Exxon State well was drilled near the center of one of the subbasins. The Exxon well was drilled to a total depth of 3,827 m (12,556 ft), and penetrated the following stratigraphic section: Pleistocene(?) to middle(?) Miocene upper basin-fill sedimentary rocks (0-908 m [0-2,980 ft]) lower basin-fill sedimentary rocks (908-1,880 m [2,980-6,170 ft]) lower Miocene and upper Oligocene Pantano Formation (1,880-2,516 m [6,170-8,256 ft]) upper Oligocene to Paleocene(?) volcanic and sedimentary rocks (2,516-3,056 m [8,256-10,026 ft]) Lower Cretaceous to Upper Jurassic Bisbee Group (3,056-3,658 m [10,026-12,001 ft]) pre-Late Jurassic granitoid plutonic rock (3,658-3,827 m [12,001- 12,556 ft]). Stratigraphy and Tectonic History of the Tucson Basin, Pima County, Arizona, Based on the Exxon State (32)-1 Well The 1,880 m (6,170 ft) of basin-fill sedimentary rocks consist of alluvial-fan, alluvial-plain, and playa facies. The uppermost unit, a 341-m-thick (1,120-ft) lower Pleistocene and upper Pliocene alluvial-fan deposit (named the Cienega Creek fan in this study), is an important aquifer in the Tucson basin. The facies change at the base of the alluvial fan may prove to be recognizable in well data throughout much of the basin. The well data show that a sharp boundary at 908 m (2,980 ft) separates relatively unconsolidated and undeformed upper basin fill from denser, significantly faulted lower basin fill, indicating that there were two stages of basin filling in the Tucson basin as in other basins of the region. The two stages apparently occurred during times of differing tectonic style in the region. In the Tucson area the Pantano Formation, which contains an andesite flow dated at about 25 Ma, fills a syntectonic basin in the hanging wall of the Catalina detachment fault, reflecting middle Tertiary extension on the fault. The formation in the well is 636 m thick (2,086 ft) and consists of alluvial-fan, playa, and lacustrine sedimentary facies, a lava flow, and rock- avalanche deposits. Analysis of the geophysical logs indicates that a K-Ar date of 23.4 Ma reported previously for the Pantano interval of the well was obtained on selected cuttings collected from a rock-avalanche deposit near the base of the unit and, thus, does not date the Pantano Formation. The middle Tertiary volcanic and sedimentary rocks have an aggregate thickness of 540 m (1,770 ft). We obtained a new 40Ar/ 39Ar age of 26.91+0.18 Ma on biotite sampled at a depth of 2,584-2,609 m (8,478-8,560 ft) from a 169-m-thick (554-ft) silicic tuff in this interval. The volcanic rocks probably correlate with other middle Tertiary volcanic rocks of the area, and the sedimentary rocks may correlate with the Cloudburst and Mineta Formations exposed on the flanks of the San Pedro Basin to the northeast. The Bisbee Group in the Exxon well is 602 m (1,975 f

Citation Information

Publication Year 2004
Title Stratigraphy and tectonic history of the Tucson Basin, Pima County, Arizona, based on the Exxon state (32)-1 well
DOI 10.3133/sir20045076
Authors Brenda B. Houser, Lisa Peters, Richard P. Esser, Mark E. Gettings
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2004-5076
Index ID sir20045076
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse