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Strontium Isotope Ages of the Marine Merced Formation, near San Francisco, California

  • B. Lynn Ingram (a1) and James C. Ingle (a2)

The strontium isotopic compositions of foraminifers ( Elphidiella hannaiwere determined to refine the age of coastal sediments of the Merced Formation and to evaluate the relation between transgressive–regressive cycles and Pleistocene glacio-eustatic sea-level fluctuations. Relatively good age resolution (± 0.1 myr) is possible in the upper part of the section. The Sr isotope ages provide strong supporting evidence for the fission track ages of an ash layer at the top of the formation (0.45 myr), as well as recent age estimates for the mammoth fossil of ∼0.45 myr. Sr isotope ages in the upper part of the section also confirm that marine/nonmarine cyclic sedimentation in the Merced Formation is controlled by glacial–interglacial cycles. Good age resolution for the lower part of the section is not possible, due to little variation of the87Sr/86Sr ratio in global sea water between 2.4 and 4.3 myr. The age of the base of the formation is constrained only between 2.4 and 4.8 myr. Sediment accumulation rates in the upper portion of the Merced Formation (between 0 and 720 m) are significantly higher than those calculated for the basal portion (between 720 and 1670 m). The change in accumulation rate may be due to increased continental weathering rates and/or increased tectonic subsidence beginning about 0.8 myr ago.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
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