San Joaquin Geological Society Bakersfield California
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The San Joaquin Geological Society has no formal dues, and our activities are open to anyone interested in geology.

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Current Abstract


The Role of Climate, Oceanography, Tectonics and Environment in Mudstone Deposition on the Miocene to Quaternary California Margin.


Richard Behl

Department of Geological Sciences, California State University, Long Beach


Fine-grained sedimentary deposits – mudrocks – are a mystery. Sandstones and carbonates, with their bold and exciting sedimentary structures, grainsize variations and macrofossils are easier to investigate and understand for most geologists. But mudstones, shales and the related fine-grained biogenic rocks – diatomite, porcelanite, chert, and marl, etc. – make up 2/3′s of all sedimentary rocks. How can we ignore them? Because they are generally deposited in deeper, lower-energy environments, they hold the most complete and continuous records of Earth history, but specialized approaches must be taken, giving rise in importance to chemostratigraphy, isotope stratigraphy and the flourishing fields of paleoceanography and paleoclimatology.

We have learned much about the climatic, oceanographic, and tectonic evolution of the California Margin from mud and mudrocks. This presentation will be a walk through some of the “greatest hits” of the past 15 million years along the California margin, combining results from onshore and offshore studies. Among these are Miocene responses to global cooling and growth of the Antarctic ice sheet and tectonic reorganization of the margin’s shoreline and bathymetry; influence of Miocene-Pliocene compressive tectonics on sediment distribution and composition; and Quaternary rapid warming events, fluctuations in the oxygen minimum zone along California, ecosystem overturn, influences of volcanic eruptions, and climatic control of episodic natural oil and gas venting from the seafloor.


Richard J. (Rick) Behl is Professor of Geological Sciences at California State University Long Beach, and Director of the MARS Project (Monterey And Related Sediments). Behl earned his Bachelors degree from UC San Diego and a PhD at UC Santa Cruz. His expertise is in sedimentary petrology and sedimentary geology, particularly the climatic, oceanographic, and tectonic evolution of the California margin. He has written more than 45 peer-reviewed, scientific articles and one controversial book. Behl and his students have made more than 130 conference presentations at regional through international conferences. Behl has led dozens of field trips for professionals and frequently consult for industry. He was recognized as AAPG Distinguished Lecturer in 2003-2004, Distinguished Educator of the AAPG-Pacific Section in 2010, Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2012, and Honorary Membership in Pacific Section SEPM. Most recently, Rick is proud to be the recipient of the 2014 “Pretty Darned Good Professor” Award of CSULB’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.


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3The San Joaquin Geological Society gladly accepts your donations. In 2011, the Society awarded nearly $8000 to educational institutions and organizations.

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