The Bouse Formation in the lower Colorado River trough holds an important record of the onset of the modern drainage patterns in the southwestern United States. It comprises calcareous and clastic infill deposited during flooding of several basins, including the Bristol and Blythe subbasins of Lake Bouse. An intercalated ash bed, which is key to constraining its depositional age, is exposed in two locations, Buzzards Peak and Amboy. Comparative zircon tephrochronology by secondary ion microprobe analysis of U-Pb zircon crystallization ages, U-Th trace element abundances, and oxygen isotopic composition confirm a correlation between the Bouse Formation tephra and the 4.834 ± 0.011 Ma Lawlor Tuff (40Ar/39Ar eruption age). Zircon in a coeval tephra associated with the Heise volcanic complex in the Snake River Plain has distinctly lower (by ∼4.8‰, δ18O VSMOW [Vienna standard mean ocean water]) oxygen isotopic compositions than zircon from Bouse tephra, and can be ruled out as a source. The ca. 4.834 Ma depositional age for the Bouse Formation tephra in fine-grained sedimentary beds of the flooded Bristol and Blythe subbasins requires widespread Colorado River inundation in the lower Bouse basins at that time.
- Received 21 January 2013.
- Revision received 29 December 2013.
- Accepted 5 February 2014.
- © 2014 Geological Society of America