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Stream capture to form Red Pass, northern Soda Mountains, California

April 1, 2014

Red Pass, a narrow cut through the Soda Mountains important for prehistoric and early historic travelers, is quite young geologically. Its history of downcutting to capture streams west of the Soda Mountains, thereby draining much of eastern Fort Irwin, is told by the contrast in alluvial fan sediments on either side of the pass. Old alluvial fan deposits (>500 ka) were shed westward off an intact ridge of the Soda Mountains but by middle Pleistocene time, intermediate-age alluvial fan deposits (~100 ka) were laid down by streams flowing east through the pass into Silurian Valley. The pass was probably formed by stream capture driven by high levels of groundwater on the west side. This is evidenced by widespread wetland deposits west of the Soda Mountains. Sapping and spring discharge into Silurian Valley over millennia formed a low divide in the mountains that eventually was overtopped and incised by a stream. Lessons include the importance of groundwater levels for stream capture and the relatively youthful appearance of this ~100-200 ka feature in the slowly changing Mojave Desert landscape.

Publication Year 2014
Title Stream capture to form Red Pass, northern Soda Mountains, California
Authors David M. Miller, Shannon A. Mahan
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70194791
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center