Understanding details of accretionary complex architecture is essential to understanding construction of oceanic “outer” sides of orogens. The architecture of the Franciscan Complex (California), considered by many to be the “type” accretionary complex, is widely viewed in the context of terranes or belts delimited by reconnaissance mapping that reveals neither regional variations within terranes nor critical details of stratigraphy and structure. The architectural importance of Franciscan mélanges is recognized, but the importance of sandstone-matrix mélanges and olistostromal sandstones is not. Large-scale mapping in Sonoma and Marin counties, California, shows that Franciscan rocks are deformed, submarine-fan units of Facies A–E, plus Facies F olistolith-bearing submarine channel sandstones and olistostromal sandstone- and shale-matrix mélanges. Some mélanges are polygenetic with a sedimentary origin and a tectonic overprint. Glaucophane schists were recycled into conglomerates and olistostromes. Mappable units constitute members, broken and dismembered formations, and mélanges. Considering the stratigraphy and structure evident at the 1:24,000 scale, accretion via a subduction channel mechanism is impossible. The Sonoma-Marin Central belt or Central terrane (mélange) is not a monolithic shale-matrix mélange and lacks this characteristic of rocks assigned the same name to the north. Franciscan rocks here structurally underlie thrust-faulted fragments of a regional ultramafic sheet and, locally, an underlying exotic block-bearing serpentinite-matrix mélange. The detailed mapping shows that regional relations among and within Franciscan terranes and belts are poorly understood and suggests that such mapping is needed to clarify accretionary complex architecture and history. The implication for accretionary complex studies, in general, is that, while terrane or belt designations provide a general picture of the collage nature of accretionary complexes and clarification of regional relationships, only large-scale structural and stratigraphic studies can elucidate the architectural details of these orogenic complexes.
- Received 8 October 2014.
- Revision received 13 April 2015.
- Accepted 2 June 2015.
- © 2015 Geological Society of America