High-resolution late Paleozoic cyclostratigraphy and tectonic evolution of the Keeler Basin, California, southwest Laurentia

Patrick J. Gannon, M. Elliot Smith, Paul J. Umhoefer, Ryan J. Leary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cyclic strata exposed in the Inyo Mountains of eastern California contain a continuous 6 m.y. record of deep marine deposition that spans the Pennsylvanian–Permian boundary. To better understand the geologic evolution of southwest Laurentia and the role of glacially driven eustasy in upper Paleozoic stratigraphy, we measured two detailed ~600 m composite stratigraphic sections of the Keeler Canyon Formation and collected a handheld spectral gamma ray log. Post-depositional deformation complicates field relationships, but 1:5000 scale mapping of faults and folds permits assembly of two continuous sections. Measured strata alternate at the 5–20 m scale between intervals of fine-grained laminated marlstone and intervals of mixed carbonate and siliciclastic turbidites and debrites. Based on facies characteristics and a prominent marker horizon, we reassign the Pennsylvanian-Permian age upper Salt Tram unit of the upper Keeler Canyon Formation to a new Estelle Member. We estimate sediment accumulation rates within the Keeler Canyon Formation using published conodont biostratigraphy and correlative U-Pb geochronology from Eastern Europe combined with spectral analysis and timescale optimization using the Astrochron R package. Evolutive harmonic analysis of gamma ray-derived element concentrations reveals prominent bundled periodicities that are consistent with both long and short eccentricity cycles. Average sediment accumulation rates calculated using the time scale optimization function of Astrochron suggest a gradual increase from 40–60 m/m.y. to ~120 m/m.y. during the late Pennsylvanian and then a minima of ~50 m/m.y. near the Pennsylvanian–Permian boundary, which is followed by an increase to ~175 m/m.y. into the Early Permian. This trend in sediment accumulation rates and subsequent Permian contractile deformation are compatible with flexural subsidence in a SW-migrating foreland basin related to the southern part of the late Antler orogenic system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1065-1078
Number of pages14
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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