About This Item

Share This Item

The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 86, No. 9 (September 2002), P. 1543-1560.

Copyright ©2002. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

A new depositional model for the classical turbidite locality at San Clemente State Beach, California

Hilario Camacho,1 Cathy J. Busby,2 Ben Kneller3

1Department of Geological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, Building 526, Santa Barbara, California, 93106; email: [email protected]
2Department of Geological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, Building 526, Santa Barbara, California, 93106; email: [email protected]
3Institute for Crustal Studies, 1140 Giruetz Hall, University of California, Santa Barbara, California, 93106; email: [email protected]


Hilario Camacho received a B.Sc. degree in geology from the Universidad de Granada, Spain, in 1992 and an M.S. degree from California State University, Long Beach. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is chief geologist at Signal Hill Petroleum, Inc., in Long Beach, California. His research interests are focused on fluid flow in sedimentary basins, oil generation and migration, and siliciclastic diagenesis.

Cathy Busby received her B.S. degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1977 and her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1983. She then joined the faculty at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she has been a professor since 1992. As part of her research on the tectonics of sedimentary basins, she has published on turbidite facies architecture in outcrop, making comparisons with modern analogs and subsurface examples. She teaches turbidite courses at the graduate level and for industry.

Ben Kneller gained his B.Sc. degree from the University of Sheffield and his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom. He was formerly on the faculty at the University of Leeds, where he initiated and, for seven years, led the Turbidites Research Group. He is now a researcher at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has applied a combination of traditional facies-based field studies, experimental work, and theory to turbidite process sedimentology. He regularly consults and teaches short courses for industry.


This work was funded by grant number PRF 32624-AC8 from the American Chemical Society to Cathy Busby and by a gift from ARCO to Cathy Busby. Additional support from Signal Hill Petroleum, Inc., to Hilario Camacho is also acknowledged. The article was greatly improved by the comments of William Morris and the formal reviewers W. Normark and J. Coleman. Thanks to Kari Bassett for assisting Cathy Busby in shooting the photomosaic and making the earliest line drawings. Discussions in the field at San Clemente with Jeff Peakall are gratefully acknowledged.


The Miocene turbidite system exposed in the beach cliffs at San Clemente State Beach, California, has been used by industry and academia alike as a field laboratory. It has been used as an analog for petroleum reservoirs in the Los Angeles Basin and other areas. We interpret the turbidite system at San Clemente State Beach to represent the fill of a single turbidite channel that aggraded subvertically. This interpretation is based on construction of a detailed photomosaic, mapping of three-dimensional facies distributions, measurement of representative sections, and collection of new paleocurrent data; we also extended this analysis to outcrops not previously described in the literature. The channel had a minimum width of 1 km and a paleotransport direction toward the northwest. Our new paleocurrent measurements indicate an average transport direction of 321 degrees for the channel deposits, approximately perpendicular to previously published paleocurrent data. Our paleocurrent data are in agreement with the trend of the channel as defined by facies mapping. The lateral and vertical facies changes along the sea cliffs at San Clemente are a result of interfingering between axial and marginal facies within a single turbidite channel. We interpret the turbidite channel to have been cut into a low-gradient continental slope (less than 1 degrees), rather than representing a channel on a submarine fan. We propose that the Gollum channel system is a modern analog of the turbidite system at San Clemente State Beach.

Pay-Per-View Purchase Options

The article is available through a document delivery service. Explain these Purchase Options.

Watermarked PDF Document: $14
Open PDF Document: $24

AAPG Member?

Please login with your Member username and password.

Members of AAPG receive access to the full AAPG Bulletin Archives as part of their membership. For more information, contact the AAPG Membership Department at [email protected].