Limestone beds underlain and overlain by alluvial fan conglomerate near Amboy, California, are very similar in many respects to parts of the Bouse Formation, suggesting that an arm of the Pliocene Bouse water body extended across a wide part of the southern Mojave Desert. The deposits are north of the town of Amboy at and below an elevation of 290 m, along the northern piedmont of the Bristol “dry” Lake basin. The Amboy outcrops contain the Lawlor Tuff (4.83 Ma), which is also found in an outcrop of the Bouse Formation in the Blythe basin near Buzzards Peak in the Chocolate Mountains, 180 km southeast of Amboy. Bouse exposures near Amboy are ∼3.4 m thick, white, distinctly bedded, with limestone and calcareous sandstone as well as stromatolite mounds; we interpret these as nearshore deposits. The Bouse at Amboy contains ostracodes, diatoms, and mollusks that indicate saline lake or estuarine environments with an admixture of fresh-water forms. Along with wading bird tracks and a spine from a marine fish, these fossils suggest that the deposits formed in saline waters near a fresh-water source such as a perennial stream. Beds of the outcrop dip southward and are 113 m above the surface of Bristol Playa, where similar age sediments are buried 270+ m deep, indicating significant faulting and vertical tectonics in this part of the Eastern California Shear Zone during the past 5 m.y. Confirmation of the Bouse Formation at Amboy strengthens previous assignments to the Bouse Formation for mudstones in driller logs at Danby “dry” Lake, California, and suggests that areally extensive arms of the Bouse water body were west of the Blythe basin. The Bristol basin arm of the lower Bouse basin probably was restricted from the main water body by narrow passages, but Bouse sediment there is similar to that in the Blythe basin, suggesting generally similar water chemistry and environmental conditions. Examining the degree to which Bouse deposits in the western arms differed from Bouse deposits in the Blythe basin offers an approach to test whether the southernmost Bouse water body was deposited in an estuarine or lacustrine setting.
- Received 26 March 2013.
- Revision received 3 March 2014.
- Accepted 3 April 2014.
- © 2014 Geological Society of America