Geology of the Elsie-lower Nehalem River area, south-central Clatsop and northern Tillamook counties, northwestern Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/vm40xx011

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  • The middle Eocene Tillamook Volcanics form the oldest rock unit in the Elsie-lower Nehalem River area. K-Ar age determinations and age constraints imposed by foraminiferal and calcareous nannofossil assemblages of overlying sedimentary strata indicate an absolute age of about 42 Ma for the uppermost Tillamook Volcanics. Major oxide values indicate that the upper Tillamook Volcanics are highly fractionated high Fe-Ti tholeiitic basalts and basaltic andesites. These volcanics were erupted in a developing forearc under an extensional plate tectonic setting and formed a moderately large oceanic island. These subaerial flows are predominantly aphyric to plagioclase-augite porphyritic and have a pilotaxitic flow texture. Epochs of both normal and reverse magnetic polarity are recorded. Thermal subsidence related to the end of the volcanism resulted in deposition of the transgressive late Eocene Hamlet formation over the "Tillamook island". The informal Hamlet formation consists of three members. From oldest to youngest they are: the Roy Creek member, the Sunset Highway member, and the Sweet Home Creek member. Three lithofacies are present in the Roy Creek member. The stratigraphically lowest of these consists of basaltic boulder-pebble conglomerate and locally fossiliferous pebbly basaltic sandstones which were deposited in a high energy nearshore environment around rocky basaltic headlands and sea stacks of the Tillamook Volcanics. Molluscan fossils in this lithofacies are correlative to the middle to late Eocene "CowlitzCoaledo" fauna. Successively overlying lithofacies are a very coarseto coarse-grained shallow marine basaltic sandstone lithofacies and a medium- to fine-grained basaltic sandstone lithofacies. This fining upward sequenced documents progressive deepening of the depositional basin. Framework clasts in all three Roy Creek member lithofacies were predominantly derived from the Tillamook Volcanics. Pore-filling diagenetic chlorite, smectite (nontronite), calcite, and zeolite (clinoptilolite and heulandite) cements severely reduce the porosity of Roy Creek member sandstones. The Sunset Highway member of the Hamlet formation conformably overlies the Roy Creek member in eastern Clatsop and western Columbia counties and pinches out to the west at about the longitude of the Nehalem River in T. 4 N., R. 8 W.. The Sunset Highway member is predominantly composed of interbedded micaceous arkosic sandstone, lithic arkose, and muddy micaceous arkosic siltstone with a few beds of basaltic sandstone and basaltic debris flow breccias. The dominant micaceous arkosic composition of the Sunset Highway member reflects a distant extrabasinal granitic-metamorphic provenance and contrasts with that of the locally derived underlying basaltic Roy Creek member. Low angle trough cross-bedding, hummocky bedding, and microcross-laminations in fine to medium-grained arkosic sandstones are interpreted to have been produced by large storm-generated waves and on a high energy inner shelf. Thin interbeds of bioturbated mudstone and mollusc-bearing bioturbated sandstones formed during periods of fairweather conditions and during lower sedimentation rates. Rare matrix supported, basaltic debris-flow breccias and basaltic sandstones were derived from nearby basaltic headlands and by rivers draining the Tillamook Volcanics. Minor secondary intraparticle porosity occurs with some primary intergranular porosity in relatively matrix-free Sunset Highway member arkosic sandstones. However, much of the porosity and permeability of these potential sandstones has been reduced by diagenetic smectite coatings on framework grains and potassium feldspar overgrowths of feldspars. The mudstone-dominated Sweet Home Creek member was conformably deposited on the Sunset Highway member in eastern Clatsop and western Columbia counties. In western Clatsop County the Sweet Home Creek member directly and conformably overlies the Roy Creek member due to pinch out of the Sunset Highway member. Upper Narizian to lowermost Refugian benthic foraminiferal assemblages from this unit indicate outer shelf to upper slope sedimentation and continued subsidence of the depositional (Astoria) basin. Micromicaceous and carbonaceous silty mudatone dominates this unit but thin-bedded micaceous arkosic turbidite sandstones are present in the lower part, and rare, thin basaltic turbidites are present in the upper half. X-ray diffraction analysis shows that the dominant clay minerals in the Sweet Home Creek member niudstone are smectite (montmorillonite), kaolinite, and illite. The Cole Mountain basalt (informal) intrudes and locally overlies the Sweet Home Creek member. This caic-alkaline basaltic andesite is thought to have formed in a compressional plate tectonic regime and been emplaced on the outer shelf and upper slope as shallow irregular sills and dikes and minor submarine pillow basalt-hyaloclastite complexes. Siliceous nodules associated with pillowed units locally contains a few per cent pyrite and are associated with small areas of high-grade supergene copper-silver mineralization. The normally polarized Cole Mountain basalt is chemically, petrographically, and lithologically distinct from the Tillamook Volcanics and Grande Ronde Basalt of the Columbia River Basalt Group. The uppermost Narizian and Refugian (late Eocene) Jewell member of the Keasey Formation disconformably overlies the Cole Mountain basalt and Sweet Home Creek member. A thin basal glauconitic sandstone-siltstone reflects a period of reduced sedimentation under slightly reducing conditions and marks the disconformity. The unit primarily consists of laminated to thin bedded tuffaceous mudstone with a few thin tuff beds, small micaceous arkosic sandstone channels and clastic dikes. Clay minerals in the Jewell member are dominated by smectite (montmorillonite), with minor kaolinite and illite (degraded mica) in the lower part of the unit. Benthic foraminiferal assemblages in the unit indicate bathyal or slope depths and have been assigned to the lower Refugian to upper Narizian stages. In the middle Miocene, irregular dikes and sills of the Grande Ronde Basalt of the Columbia River Basalt Group intruded the late Eocene sedimentary strata in the thesis area. Two magneto-chemical types of Grande Ronde Basalt, N2/low MgO-low Ti02 and N2/ high MgO, were identified in the thesis area. These were geochemically and magnetically correlated to subaerial flows of magneto-chemical types IA and 5A of Mangan and others (1986) on the Columbia Plateau. The intrusions or invasive flows are interpreted to have been derived from voluminous plateau eruptions by invasion into soft, unconsolidated Neogene sediments at the marine/coast interface and then into the more brittle but ductile Paleogene strata of the area as first proposed by Beeson and others (1979). Uplift of the Coast Range was initiated in the late Miocene as a result of rapid offshore underthrusting in the subduction zone (Snavely and others, 1983). This has resulted in subaerial erosion and exposure of the faulted and gently folded forearc ridge and deposition of Quaternary alluvial gravels and sands along major rivers and creek in the thesis area. The dominant structural features of the Elsie-lower Nehalem River area are generally down-to-the-north, east-west-trending high angle faults with oblique offset and a conjugate set of oblique slip northwest-trending right-lateral and northeast-trending left-lateral faults. Folds are broad and relatively minor. The major east-west-trending fault pattern may have been initially produced by extensional stresses related to subsidence of the "Tillamook island". The conjugate strike-slip fault pattern may have been created by partial coupling of the forearc basin with oblique subduction of the Farallon plate. Other than timber, locally used rock aggregate from small quarries is the only resource that has been realized in the thesis area. Most quarries are developed in dikes and sills of Grande Ronde Basalt and the aggregate is used to macadamize logging roads. Diagenetic events have resulted in significant loss of porosity and permeability of potential reservoir sandstones in the area. The most favorable targets are relatively matrix-free micaceous arkosic sandstones in the Sunset Highway member, but these have been breached by erosion in the eastern part of the thesis area and pinch out in the western part of the area where potential mudstone cap rocks (e.g., Hamlet and Keasey formations) are present. Mudstones in the area contain woody-structured kerogen and average about 1% total organic carbon. These potential source rocks are generally thermally immature but have locally been baked by basaltic intrusions. This results in elevated vitrinite reflectance values (in the oil window and beyond) and, therefore, the mudstones may be potential source rocks for methane generation. Mineralized fault zones have substantial width and length but do not appear to carry anomalous concentrations of any metals other than arsenic. High-grade supergene copper-silver mineralization associated with Cole Mountain basalt intrusions has been documented but appears to be very localized and is not thought to be a viable exploration target.
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