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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Pacific Section of AAPG


Late Cenozoic Fluid Seeps and Tectonics along the San Gregorio Fault Zone in the Monterey Bay Region, California, 1999
Pages 53-74

A Late Cenozoic Sandstone Intrusion West Of Santa Cruz, California: Fluidized Flow of Water-And Hydrocarbon-Saturated Sediments

Brian J. Thompson, Robert E. Garrison, J. Casey Moore


Sandstone intrusions are widespread west of Santa Cruz, California and were emplaced during late Cenozoic tectonic deformation of this region. Among these is a very large and complex intrusion which is well exposed along the coastline at Yellow Bank Creek. Here, fluidized sands from the Miocene Santa Margarita Sandstone were injected upward into fractured biosiliceous rocks of the Santa Cruz Mudstone, probably due to faulting and seismic shaking. The complicated internal structure of this intrusion includes sedimentary xenoliths, fluidization structures, and secondary limonite staining. The latter likely occurred during oxidation by groundwater and produced conspicuous, complicated layering which serves to mask and confuse interpretations of the earlier-formed features. Among the earlier formed features are fluidization structures, comprising (1) flow banding which records injection of sands horizontally in silllike areas of the intrusion, and (2) heave structures which reflect mainly vertical injection of hydrocarbons and sands partially saturated with hydrocarbons into water-saturated sands. This latter type of injection appears to have occurred at a hydrocarbon front that was derived from either a localized petroleum accumulation or else from remnants of hydrocarbons that had mostly migrated updip prior to the clastic intrusion event. Dolomitic cementation occurred preferentially in the hydrocarbon-saturated sands due to degradation of the hydrocarbons. Paleotemperature estimates of the intrusive sandstones (by apatite fission track analysis) and of the host Santa Cruz Mudstone (by vitrinite reflectance) indicate maximum temperatures of about 60°C for the former, 50°C for the latter. Our data suggests that initial fluidization began in water-saturated sands of the bioturbated facies in the Santa Margarita Sandstone; following upward intrusion of these sands, fluidization and injection expanded into hydrocarbon-bearing sands within the cross-bedded facies of the same unit.

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