Mississippian Sedimentary Facies Patterns in East-Central California and Implications for Development of the Permian Last Chance Thrust

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Mississippian sedimentary facies belts in east-central California, occurring primarily in the autochthon (lower plate) of the Last Chance Thrust, are consistently oriented in a northeast–southwest direction. The boundary of one belt is marked by the depositional limit of the Osagean to Meramecian Santa Rosa Hills Limestone; a second belt farther to the northwest is bordered by the erosional truncation of the Kinderhookian to Osagean Tin Mountain Limestone. Two additional facies belts, both in the Meramecian to Chesterian Kearsarge Formation, also are present in the area; one near Jackass Flats is marked by the presence of limestone and quartzite olistoliths, and the other in the Last Chance Range includes abundant chert– pebble conglomerates. These two facies of the Kearsarge Formation also occur to the southwest at and near Mazourka Canyon in the allochthon (upper plate) of the Last Chance Thrust. The great similarity and near alignment of these facies belts in both the allochthon and the autochthon can be explained by clockwise rotation of ~558 of the allochthon around a pivot point in the west-central Inyo Mountains. In this model, displacement on the Last Chance Thrust increases from zero at the pivot point to 75 km for rocks exposed in the northern White Mountains. Reconstruction of the paleogeography suggests that the Last Chance Thrust is not part of a major fold and thrust belt but is a major structure limited to a relatively small area along the continental margin where the leading edge of an allochthonous terrane (possibly the Northern Sierra Terrane) impinged against the North American plate.


allochthon rotation, east-central California, Mississippian facies, Mississippian tectonics, Permian thrust