An interval of the Early to Middle Pleistocene history of the California Borderland was assessed using multivariate analysis of foraminifera from the Santa Barbara Formation at Bathhouse Beach, Santa Barbara, California. A census of 93 species of benthic foraminifera and nine species of planktonic foraminifera was compiled from 11 samples from the shelly marls, silts, and sands of the lower member. Most species of benthic foraminifera are rare and only 38 species comprise one percent or more of the population in one or more samples.
Paleoenvironment of the sea floor was determined based on benthic foraminifera. R-mode cluster analysis defined five associations which are similar to those of the present-day banks and terraces of the California Borderland. Q-mode cluster analysis grouped samples into four biofacies which characterize shallow banks near 50 meters water depth and off-shore ridges and deep banks averaging 150 meters water depth. The stratigraphic succession of biofacies indicates two transgressive cycles separated by an apparent disconformity between 7.5 and 8.9 meters above the base of the section (between samples 3 and 4).
Paleoceanography of surficial waters was interpreted from planktonic foraminifera. Paleotemperature was assessed from the proportion of sinistral to dextral morphs and from the proportion of encrusted, compact morphs to reticulate, globular morphs of Neogloboquadrina pachyderma. The coiling morphs show a warm interval from the base of the section to about 12 meters (between samples 5 and 6), and a cooler interval from about 12 meters to about 24 meters (between samples 10 and 11), and an interval of intermediate paleotemperature in the topmost sample of the section. Changes in the planktonic assemblage do not coincide with the transgressive cycles inferred from the benthic biofacies.
The Bathhouse Beach section can be placed chronostratigraphically based on planktonic foraminiferal coiling shifts and strontium isotopic data. The isotopic age range of 400 to 900 Kyr brackets the 600 Kyr age assigned by Lagoe and Thompson (1988) to the Neogloboquadrina pachyderma coiling dominance interval CD9/CD8 boundary which occurs midway in the section, between samples 5 and 6.