Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Structural evolution of the Russell Ranch oil field and vicinity, southern Coast Ranges, California

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  • The Russell Ranch oil field is located in the southern Coast Ranges west of Bakersfield, California. Detailed subsurface mapping shows that a northwest-oriented right-lateral wrench-fault system was active from possibly latest Oligocene to Pliocene time. The effects of Quaternary thrusting were superimposed on, and influenced by, structures associated with the older wrench tectonic regime. The right-lateral shear system produced a complex pattern of right-stepping en echelon folds, dip-slip faults with normal separation, and strike-slip faults with both normal and reverse separation. Deformation along the wrench system began during deposition of the late Oligocene-early Miocene Soda Lake Shale and Painted Rock Sandstone members of the Vaqueros Formation, producing elongate en echelon submarine troughs and highs. Northerly trending growth faults of early Miocene age caused thickening of the late Saucesian-early Relizian Saltos Shale Member of the Monterey Formation and may have initiated growth of the Russell Ranch anticline. Northeast- to northwest-trending normal faults and northwest-trending strike-slip faults of the Russell fault system were active during deposition of a sequence tentatively correlated with the Branch Canyon Sandstone and Santa Margarita Formation of middle and late Miocene age. Strike-slip faulting produced a complex interleaving of fault slices and juxtaposed slices of contrasting lithologies and orientations. Subsequent minor movement along the wrench system folded the base of the Morales Formation, of Pliocene-Pleistocene age, into elongate en echelon folds. The north-dipping Whiterock and Morales thrusts brought Miocene and younger strata southward over deposits as young as late Pleistocene. The Whiterock thrust changes southward from a southeasterly to an easterly strike. The upper plate was thrust southward, and structures in the lower plate apparently controlled the geometry of the developing fault plane. The thrust ramps as it overrides the normal and strike-slip faults of middle Miocene age; rootless folds similar to those found in the Caliente Range are present in the upper thrust plate above the tectonic ramps. Wrench-related faulting in the Cuyama basin predates similar movement along the San Andreas fault to the northeast and may represent a strand of the proto-San Andreas fault. Quaternary thrusting in the basin was influenced by and now obscures the structures of the older wrench fault system; thrusting activity was probably contemporaneous with thrust faulting in the Transverse Ranges to the south.
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