Thursday, November 10, 2016

Titus Canyon: We Make Our Way Toward Klare Spring

We're making our way down Titus Canyon toward Klare Spring, an obligatory petroglyph stop about two miles below Leadfield. On this rather short leg of our journey, we'll be seeing a hodgepodge of photos from two trips taken in two separate years, all shot within a short distance of each other not far upstream from the spring. The canyon distance of the views that our photos will show, upstream to downstream, will be about two miles (3.2 km).

Our first photo set looks back to the east. You do remember that last time, before we stopped for our little hike scramble, we had looked to the south and had seen what I think is the main strand of the Titus Canyon fault zone. We can see this same fault exposure from our current stopping point just north of a shadowy cliff. The mile-distant fault is placing Bonanza King Formation dolomite (Єb) of the upper plate over Carrara Formation (Єc) limestone and a bit of Zabriskie Quartzite of the lower plate (we can't see the Zabriskie from this angle). I’ve sketched the main strand of the Titus Canyon fault zone (TCFZ) in hachured dark blue.
As explained previously, that fault appears to wrap around to become what I've drawn in as the same fault strand, high on the cliffs in the upper right. I've postulated a lower strand, drawn in hachured bright blue. The exact position of the proposed fault is questionable, possibly higher on the hill than I've shown it, as is the formation contained within in the resulting "middle plate," which I've shown as Bonanza King. In this first photo, taken in late February of this year, things look pretty brown, because spring has just barely arrived.

The cliffs on the side of the road are captivating in that they look iron stained and possibly brecciated. I think they make a great backdrop to a photo that's very similar to the first one, but which was taken on a green spring day in early May, 2009. The creosote was in bloom, and so were some cacti and other wildflowers.
I'm not sure what rock formation is exposed in this almost-always shadowed cliff. It might be Carrara, as labeled, or it might be Bonanza King.
MOH and I wandered around this area quite a bit, checking out the wildflowers.
Here we are, a little to the north of the last spot, along an old wash channel paralleling the road, still looking to the east. 
The same photo with geologic labeling by moi.
(H/t to Dana Hunter for the "moi.")
What are we seeing here? Well, we're looking at the main strand of the TCFZ on the cliff in the distance to the east, as before, but here I've postulated an offsetting high-angle normal fault, down-to-the-north, and drawn it in with lighter blue. As for the cliffy areas north and south of the wash and road (left and right, respectively), I'm unsure of the exact location of the Titus Canyon fault. On the left, there is definite Єc in the lower cliffs, some unknown in a slope and cliffy area above that (labeled Єc?), and definite Єb near the top of the cliff (unlabeled! who let that slip by?).

Looking back to the first photo set, there’s a huge alluvial fan coming off the higher cliffs south of the road. On our most recent trip through the canyon in early 2016, I became fascinated by the massive alluvial fans within this part of the Grapevine Mountains. It looked like one hell of a lot of erosion to me—and probably all taking place fairly rapidly and fairly recently when the Grapevine Mountains were uplifted radically in the late late Cenozoic—and so I took a number of photos of fans, some that looked active, like this one, and others that looked older.
A steep side canyon area south of the road has filled with coarse alluvial debris, forming an alluvial fan complex.
A closer view of part of the alluvial fan.
A Google Earth image of the fan complex. North is not up! The magenta line on the right is the main strand of the TCFZ (extrapolated); the magenta line on the left is possibly the lower strand in this area.
Then I looked off to the northwest and took this photo after spotting the reddish alluvial fan remnant seemingly stranded high on the active fan slopes:
A reddish color in alluvium is often indicative of an older age. Rocks above the fan are all Bonanza King Formation.
I have a hard time comprehending the amount of uplift required, possibly in pulses, to create the alluvial record that can be seen within and on the edge of the mountains in the Death Valley area.
Google Earth image of our second fan complex; magenta lines are related to my idea(s) of the TCFZ.
A little bit of alluvial air-photo mapping.
The current wash (above) is obvious. What I've labeled as 'terrace 1' can be seen in the last photo as the alluvium in front of the alluvial ledge in the lower part of the photo, the alluvium I was standing on when I took that photo. Beyond that, we have the larger fan complex, including the reddish fan in the photo, which I've labeled. I couldn’t decide where to mark the lower boundaries of that reddish fan. Anyone up for some mapping?

I then turned to the west, zooming in to see what I thought might be some reddish talus, possibly small alluvial fans, high on the slope.
Reddish talus high on the slope below dark gray and reddish outcrops of the Bonanza King Formation.
It turns out that this photo shows two mapped strands of the TCFZ, although the exact location of both is somewhat in question.
Here is my best guess of the geology, taken from Niemi (2012) and Google Earth air-photo interpretation.
The mapped upper strand of the TCFZ has placed younger Bonanza King Formation rocks (Єb) over older Carrara Formation (Єc), with the Єc forming what is here a middle plate, while the mapped lower strand has placed the Carrara over the even older Wood Canyon Formation (ZЄw).

Meanwhile, back on the lower slopes:
Bloomin’ cactus!
The barrels are leaning strongly to the south. They grow faster on the shady side, causing them to lean over, giving them the nickname “compass cactus.”
These leafy green plants were everywhere.
Barrel cactus, yellow wildflowers, and ephedra (the olive green plant behind the barrel clump).
Here’s another view of the same plants, with dolomite of the Bonanza King Formation as a backdrop. The ledge on the left might be the location of the upper strand of the TCFZ, just above Klare Spring.
And that puts us in a good position to move on to Klare Spring.

Location map

Related Posts:
The Approach to Titus Canyon: Tan Mountain
The Approach to Titus Canyon: Up and over White Pass
The Approach to Titus Canyon: To Red Pass
The Approach to Titus Canyon: Just Below Red Pass
A Hike at Red Pass, Titus Canyon Road, Death Valley, CA
Titus Canyon Road: A Little History and a Few Maps
Down into Titus Canyon: We Leave Red Pass Behind (Finally!)
Titus Canyon: The Upper Part of Lost Canyon
Leadfield: Scams with a Side of Geology
Leadfield: Views from Old Mine Buildings
Leadfield: Geology...and a Cactus...on the Way Back to the Parking Area
Almost Titus Canyon: Is This a Fold? And... Apparent Dip with Post-it® Notes
Titus Canyon: The TCFZ, the FCFZ, and a few Other Faults
Titus Canyon: Another Look at the Titus Canyon Fault and A Scramble

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