Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

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  • Geologic mapping of the Longview-Kelso area and the measurement and description of a composite 650-meter thick stratigraphic section of the Cowlitz Formation (Tc) in Coal Creek using bio-, magneto-, litho-, and sequence stratigraphy reveals a complex interplay of Cowlitz micaceous, lithic arkosic shelf to tidal/estuarine to delta plain facies associations, and Grays River basalt lava flows and interbedded basalt volcaniclastics from nearby Grays River eruptive centers (e.g., Mt. Solo and Rocky Point). The lower 100 meters of the Coal Creek section (informal unit 1, Chron 18r) consists of micaceous, lithic arkosic sandstone and siltstone and minor coals, was deposited as part of a highstand system tract (HST) at the base of 3rd order cycle number 3. This unit consists of four dominantly tidal shoaling-upward arkosic sandstone parasequences reflecting upper shoreface to delta plain depositional environments. The overlying unit 2 (Chron 18n) is defined by abundant Grays River basalt volcaniclastic interbeds that intertongue with Cowlitz lithic arkoses. This unit represents the latter part of 3rd order cycle 3, and consists of mostly fining- and thinning-upward parasequences of middle shoreface to delta plain successions of an aggradational to transgressive parasequence set. Near the top of unit 2 is a maximum marine flooding surface depositing lower shoreface lithic arkosic sandstone to shelf siltstones over upper shoreface micaceous lithic arkose. Unit 3 comprises 3rd order cycle 4 (Chron 17r), a lowstand system tract, and consists of 6 mostly fining- and thinning-upward parasequences of lower shoreface to delta plain facies associations. A parasequence or erosional boundary at the base of unit 5 (Chron 17r) consists of submarine channel-fill scoured into underlying micaceous siltstones, produced during a lowstand system tract (LST) of 3rd order cycle 5. This deep marine channel-fill sequence is overlain by thinlybedded to laminated overbank distal turbidites and hemipelagic siltstones that define the top of the Coal Creek section. These 5 informal units in Coal Creek lithologically and chronologically correlate to 5 similar informal units defined by Payne (1998) in the type section of Cowlitz Formation in Olequa Creek near Vader -30 km to the north. Middle Eocene Grays River Volcanics of the study area are mapped as two separate units: a lower unit over 150 meters thick in places, consisting of subaerial basaltic flows and invasive flows (Tgvl), intrusions (Tgvis and Tgvid), and volcaniclastics (Tgvsl); and an upper unit consisting of commonly mollusk-bearing, shallow marine basaltic sedimentary interbeds that intertongue with the Cowlitz Formation (Tgvs2), particularly Cowlitz unit 2 of the Coal Creek section. These volcaniclastic deposits are intrabasinal, derived from volcanic highlands to the west and northwest, and local phreatomagmatic tuff cones. The lower Grays River volcaniclastic unit typically overlies Grays River flows in the study area and is divided into 5 informal facies. Geochemically, Grays River flows in the study area fall within normal parameters (3 to 4% TiO2 and high iron tholeiitic basalts). However, basalt flows and bedded scoriaceous breccias near Rocky Point are anomalously low in TiO2 and are considered in this study to be a separate volcanic subunit (Rocky Point Basalts), time equivalent to and interfingering with Grays River lavas, but may represent mixing with shallower western Cascade calc-alkaline magma. Over 60 younger Grays River dikes intrude the Cowlitz Formation in Coal Creek. A dike low in the Coal Creek section is dated at 40 ± 0.36 Ma, and an invasive flow at Mt. Solo is dated at 36.98 ±.78 Ma. Volcanics capping the hills east of the Cowlitz River are chemically distinct as slightly younger western Cascade basaltic andesite flows, and two dikes east of the river are chemically distinct as western Cascade andesite. Overlying Grays River Volcanics and Cowlitz Formation in much of the study area, are clayey and commonly tuffaceous siltstones and silty sandstones, possibly of the late Eocene-early Oligocene Toutle Formation, a new unit to this area. The Toutle Formation is a mixture of wave and stream reworked micaceous and arkosic Cowlitz Formation and fresh silicic pyroclastic ash and pumice from the active western Cascade arc. An angular unconformity separates the Paleogene Grays River Volcanics, Cowlitz Formation, and Toutle Formation from the early to middle Miocene Columbia River Basalt Group. Based on lithology, geochemistry, stratigraphic relationships, and magnetic polarity, 6 individual Columbia River Basalt flows have been mapped in this study. The three lower Grande Ronde flows are of normal polarity and Ortley low MgO chemical composition. The lowermost flow (N2 Ortley #1) is absent in the Columbia Heights area, low MgO, about 10 meters thick and consists of pillow-palagonite sequences in the upper quarry on Mt. Solo. Aphyric N2 Ortley flow #2 is over 35 meters thick with well-developed upper and lower colonnade, and of intermediate MgO. N2 Ortley flow #3 is pillow-palagonite in the Storedahl Quarry and low MgO. A -4-meter thick tuffaceous overbank siltstone and basalt conglomeratic channel interbed separates the three low MgO Ortley flows from the overlying high MgO N2 Grande Ronde Sentinel Bluffs flow. A single exposure of well-developed large colonnade with sparse 1 cm labradorite laths, and reddish oxidized soil, defines the N Sand Hollow flow of the Frenchman Springs Member of the Wanapum Formation. The overlying Pomona Member is mapped based on previous work by other authors. Pliocene gravels and arkosic sand of the Troutdale Formation form upland terrace deposits up to 100 meters thick in southern parts of the study area, and represent the uplifted paleo-thalweg and overbank flood deposits of the downcutting, antecedent ancestral Columbia River. Well-rounded clasts are a mixture of extrabasinal granitic and metamorphic quartzite, and intrabasinal porphyritic basaltic andesite, dacite, and basalt from the western Cascades and Columbia River Basalts. Troutdale terrace gravels grade northward into contemporaneous volcanic pebble and cobble gravel terrace deposits produced along the ancestral Cowlitz River that are dominantly composed of porphyritic andesite gravel and volcanic sand from the western Cascades. Lower terraces along the Cowlitz River were deposited by the late Pleistocene Missoula Floods. All of these unconsolidated to semiconsolidated gravels and sands are prone to landslides, and the Aldercrest-Banyon landslide, the second worst landslide disaster in American history, occurred in the Troutdale Formation gravels. After eruption of the Grays River Volcanics and deposition of the Cowlitz Formation, the forearc underwent a period of transtension in the late-middle Eocene related to magmatic upwelling and reorganization of the subducting Farallon Plate. This event produced a northwest-trending set of oblique slip normal faults, along which Grays River dikes intruded. Starting in the early Miocene the region underwent a transpressional event, reactivating many of the northwest-trending faults, and producing the Columbia Heights Anticline, Hazel Dell Syncline, the Coal Creek Fault, and the Kelso Fault Zone. The paleotopography resulting from this event was stream eroded to a nearly flat plain before emplacement of the Columbia River Basalts, which are nearly horizontal today. Continued offset along the northwest-trending fault set has also offset the Columbia River Basalts. Continued oblique slip post-Miocene broad arching of the Coast Range and downcutting by the Columbia and Cowlitz Rivers has resulted in Pliocene and Pleistocene terraces, and produced an east-west fault set that offsets all earlier structural features.
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