Basin Development along the Late Mesozoic and Cainozoic California Margin: A Plate Tectonic Margin of Subduction, Oblique Subduction and Transform Tectonics

  1. Peter F. Ballance and
  2. Harold G. Reading
  1. D. G. Howell,
  2. J. K. Crouch,
  3. H. G. Greene,
  4. D. S. McCulloch and
  5. J. G. Vedder

Published Online: 20 APR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444303735.ch4

Sedimentation in Oblique-Slip Mobile Zones

Sedimentation in Oblique-Slip Mobile Zones

How to Cite

Howell, D. G., Crouch, J. K., Greene, H. G., McCulloch, D. S. and Vedder, J. G. (1980) Basin Development along the Late Mesozoic and Cainozoic California Margin: A Plate Tectonic Margin of Subduction, Oblique Subduction and Transform Tectonics, in Sedimentation in Oblique-Slip Mobile Zones (eds P. F. Ballance and H. G. Reading), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444303735.ch4

Author Information

  1. U.S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, California 94025, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 20 APR 2009
  2. Published Print: 11 SEP 1980

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632006076

Online ISBN: 9781444303735



  • basin development along late Mesozoic and Cainozoic California margin - oblique subduction and transform tectonics;
  • borderland basins, reflecting tectonic instability;
  • Penecontemporaneous slip, complicating lithofacies patterns;
  • late Mesozoic and Cainozoic basins, relating to plate kinematics;
  • Cretaceous and early Tertiary time, orthogonal convergence changing to oblique convergence;
  • Salinian block - allochthonous ensialic crystalline terrane;
  • Upper Cretaceous and Palaeocene deposits, indicating rapid progradational and retrogradational cycles


Along the Californian margin of the North American plate, the configuration and structural stability of late Mesozoic and Cainozoic basins are related to plate kinematics. Three tectonic regimes are recorded; orthogonal high-angle subduction, oblique low-angle subduction, and transform slip. During the first, regionally extensive forearc basins developed; during the second and third, borderland settings formed as a consequence of wrench faulting. In the forearc basins, sedimentological facies constitute regional belts that persist for hundreds of kilometres, with stratigraphic sequences that are 1–15 km thick. Shorelines are relatively straight, shelf facies are broad and well developed, and basin fill is composed of shallow marine, shelf and coalescing submarine-fan facies. Sediment transport in the deeper water facies commonly is parallel to the basin axis. Borderland basins reflect tectonic instability. A principal effect of wrench tectonics is the vertical reciprocation of crustal blocks. Shorelines are generally irregular, and narrow shelves pass abruptly into deep basins. Lithofacies change dramatically along strike, and stratigraphic thicknesses are variable from basin to basin, from tens of metres up to 6 km. Basin-margin facies are marked by unconformities, slump aprons, lithological pinch-outs and submarine canyon channels. Penecontemporaneous slip along the basin-margin faults complicates these lithofacies patterns. Borderland type palaeogeography is most extensively developed in the transform tectonic regime, and therefore the more seaward offshore basins are relatively depleted of terrigenous debris owing to transport barriers.