Geology and geomorphology--Offshore of Pacifica map area, California

Metadata Updated: November 12, 2020

This part of DS 781 presents data for the geologic and geomorphic map of the Offshore of Pacifica map area, California. The vector data file is included in "," which is accessible from The continental shelf within California’s State waters in the Pacifica area is shallow (water depths of 0 to about 40 m) and flat continental shelf with a very gentle (less than 0.5 degrees) offshore dip. The morphology and geology of this shelf result from the interplay between local tectonics, sea-level rise, sedimentary processes, and oceanography. Tectonic influences are related to local faulting and uplift (see below). Sea level has risen about 125 to 130 m over the last about 21,000 years (for example, Lambeck and Chappel, 2001; Gornitz, 2009), leading to progressive eastward migration (a few tens of km) of the shoreline and wave-cut platform, and associated transgressive erosion and deposition (for example, Catuneanu, 2006). The Offshore of Pacifica map area is now mainly an open shelf that is subjected to full, and sometimes severe, Pacific Ocean wave energy and strong currents. Most of the offshore map area is covered by marine sediments; artificial fill (unit af) occurs only at the site of the Pacifica Pier. Given their relatively shallow depths and exposure to high wave energy, modern shelf deposits are mostly sand (unit Qms). More coarse-grained sands and gravels (units Qmss and Qmsc) are primarily recognized on the basis of bathymetry and high backscatter (Bathymetry--Offshore of Pacifica map area, California, and Backscatter--Offshore of Pacifica map area, California). Unit Qmsc occurs as nearshore bars (less than 12 m water depth) for about two kilometers north of Mussel Rock and more locally offshore Pacifica, and in two isolated patches farther offshore at about 25 m water depth. Unit Qmss forms erosional lags in features known as “rippled scour depressions” (for example, Cacchione and others, 1984) or “sorted bedforms” (for example, Trembanis and Hume, 2011), at water depths of about 15 to 25 m, in contact with offshore bedrock uplifts and unit Qms. Such features are common along this stretch of the California coast where offshore sandy sediment can be relatively thin (thus unable to fill the depressions) due to both lack of sediment supply from rivers and to significant sediment erosion and offshore transport during large winter storms. Although the general areas in which both unit Qmss scour depressions and unit Qmsc bars occur are not likely to change substantially, the boundaries of the unit(s) are likely ephemeral, changing seasonally and during significant storm events. Areas where shelf sediments form thin (less than 2 m) veneers over low relief bedrock of the Franciscan Complex (see below) occur in the northern half of the map and are mapped as unit Qms/KJf. This hybrid unit is recognized and delineated based on the combination of flat relief, continuity with moderate to high relief onshore or offshore bedrock outcrops, high-resolution seismic-reflection data, and in some cases moderate to high backscatter. The thin sediment layer is regarded as ephemeral and dynamic, and may or may not be present at a specific location based on storms, seasonal to annual patterns of sediment movement, or longer-term climate cycles. In a nearby, similarly high-energy setting, Storlazzi and others (2011) have described seasonal burial and exhumation of submerged bedrock in northern Monterey Bay. Offshore bedrock exposed at the seafloor is mapped as Jurassic and Cretaceous Franciscan Complex, undivided (unit KJf); Cretaceous granite (unit Kgr); Tertiary and (or) Cretaceous rock, undivided (unit TKu); unnamed sansdstone, shale and conglomerate of Paleocene age (unit Tss); and the Upper Miocene and Pliocene Purisima Formation (unit Tp). These units are delineated by extending outcrops and trends from mapped onshore geology and from their distinctive surface textures as revealed by high-resolution bathymetry (Bathymetry--Offshore of Pacifica map area, California). Purisima Formation outcrops in the southernmost part of the offshore map area form distinctive "ribs," caused by differential erosion of variably resistant, interbedded lithologies (for example, sandstone and mudstone). In contrast, granitic rocks have a densely cross-fractured, rough surface texture, and both the Franciscan Complex and the unnamed Paleocene sedimentary unit have a more masssive, irregular, and smoother surface texture. Purisima Formation outcrops occur in water as deep as 35 m, whereas other bedrock units occur in shallower (less than 20 m) water depths, most commonly adjacent to coastal points underlain by bedrock (for example, Pedro Point and Montara Point). Map unit polygons were digitized over underlying 2-meter base layers developed from multibeam bathymetry and backscatter data. The bathymetry and backscatter data were collected between 2006 and 2010. References Cited Cacchione, D.A., Drake, D.E., Grant, W.D., and Tate, G.B., 1984. Rippled scour depressions of the inner continental shelf off central California: Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, v 54, p. 1280–1291. Catuneanu, O., 2006, Principles of Sequence Stratigraphy: Amsterdam, Elsevier, 375 p. Gornitz, V., 2009, Sea level change, post-glacial, in Gornitz, V., ed., Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments: Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series. Springer, pp. 887–893. Lambeck, K., and Chappell, J., 2001, Sea level change through the last glacial cycle: Science, v. 292, p. 679–686. Trembanis, A.C., and Hume, T.M., 2011, Sorted bedforms on the inner shelf off northeastern New Zealand: spatiotemporal relationships and potential paleo-evironmental implications: Geo-Marine Letters, v. 31, p. 203–214.

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Metadata Date April 26, 2018
Metadata Created Date November 12, 2020
Metadata Updated Date November 12, 2020
Reference Date(s) January 1, 2014 (publication)
Frequency Of Update notPlanned

Metadata Source

Harvested from DOI Open Data

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Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Date April 26, 2018
Metadata Created Date November 12, 2020
Metadata Updated Date November 12, 2020
Reference Date(s) January 1, 2014 (publication)
Responsible Party USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (Point of Contact)
Contact Email
Access Constraints Use Constraints: This information is not intended for navigational purposes. Read and fully comprehend the metadata prior to data use. Uses of these data should not violate the spatial resolution of the data. Where these data are used in combination with other data of different resolution, the resolution of the combined output will be limited by the lowest resolution of all the data. Acknowledge the U.S. Geological Survey in products derived from these data. Share data products developed using these data with the U.S. Geological Survey. This database has been approved for release and publication by the Director of the USGS. Although this database has been subjected to rigorous review and is substantially complete, the USGS reserves the right to revise the data pursuant to further analysis and review. Furthermore, it is released on condition that neither the USGS nor the United States Government may be held liable for any damages resulting from its authorized or unauthorized use. Although this Federal Geographic Data Committee-compliant metadata file is intended to document these data in nonproprietary form, as well as in ArcInfo format, this metadata file may include some ArcInfo-specific terminology., Access Constraints: If physical samples or materials are available, constraints on their on-site access are described in "WR CMG Sample Distribution Policy" at URL:
Bbox East Long -122.493750
Bbox North Lat 37.702237
Bbox South Lat 37.540691
Bbox West Long -122.588071
Coupled Resource
Frequency Of Update notPlanned
Graphic Preview Description Geology offshore Pacifica.
Graphic Preview File <>
Graphic Preview Type JPEG
Licence Unless otherwise stated, all data, metadata and related materials are considered to satisfy the quality standards relative to the purpose for which the data were collected. Although these data and associated metadata have been reviewed for accuracy and completeness and approved for release by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), no warranty expressed or implied is made regarding the display or utility of the data on any other system or for general or scientific purposes, nor shall the act of distribution constitute any such warranty.
Metadata Language
Metadata Type geospatial
Progress completed
Spatial Data Service Type
Spatial Reference System
Spatial Harvester True
Temporal Extent Begin 2006-01-01
Temporal Extent End 2010-01-01

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