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Tour of California turbidites

November 22, 2016

With three new grad students recently accepted into the CoRE research group at Colorado School of Mines, I wanted to take them into the field to scope out thesis projects and just to show them some classic turbidite locales in California. Here is a very quick overview of that trip, and some pertinent references in case you are interested in exploring further.

We started in the Ventura Basin, looking at beautiful channelized outcrops of the Modelo and Towsley formations. My student James will be working here for his M.S. project, characterizing the submarine channel fill patterns. If you want to learn more about the Ventura Basin, start here (opens pdf).

modelo-fm-at-lake-piru

Portrait of our field group, taken from a quadcopter (nicknamed the CoRECopter):

core-copter-portrait

Next we drove south to look at the Mio-Pliocene Capistrano Formation at San Clemente State Beach, a famous turbidite channel locale (see fieldguide here). Here is a typical photo of the channel fill facies at San Clemente (Zoltan Sylvester for scale):

capistrano-fm-at-san-clemente

We continued our drive south to San Diego, where we spent a few days scoping a project for Rosie, who will be working on submarine lobe deposits of the Point Loma Formation. Relevant prior reading is here (opens a pdf). These are very photogenic outcrops!

point-loma-1

point-loma-2

While working in the Point Loma, we employed our ‘science boom’ (a telescoping pole with a camera on top) to take oblique photos of the outcrops for 3D model building. Here is a fun shot of us during science boom deployment:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally, we did a long beach walk from Torrey Pines State Beach to Scripps Pier in La Jolla to look at the upward-deepening succession interpreted to be shoreline-to-submarine canyon deposits. Lisa Stright did some really nice work here integrating the outcrops into forward seismic models – see the paper here.

Here is a photo of the shoreline deposits, in this case a tidal channel with a very nice erosional base:

delmar-torrey-fms-at-torrey-pines

As you walk south on the beach, this succession grades into a coarse-grained submarine canyon fill. This photo is of a ~20 m thick sandy channel-fill onlapping a grey mudstone taken from the CoRECopter (color enhanced):

scripps-fm-at-blacks-beach

Finally, this trip was also about getting new students out in the field to look at rocks.  I think they enjoyed it!

happy-csm-geology-grad-students

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