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Stratigraphy of Late Quaternary Estuarine Deposits and Amino Acid Stereochemistry of Oyster Shells Beneath San Francisco Bay, California

  • Brian F. Atwater (a1), Bruce E. Ross (a2) and John F. Wehmiller (a1)

Abstract

The sequence of Quaternary deposits beneath the floor of San Francisco Bay includes four to seven noncontemporaneous estuarine units intercalated with alluvium and dune sand. Units L (0–10,000 B.P.), M (>40,000 B.P., probably ca. 80,000–140,000 B.P.), and N (older than unit M) are distinctly superposed. The dominant molluscan fossil in each of these three units is Ostrea lurida Carpenter, the native oyster along much of the pacific Coast of North America. Despite a lamellar structure that suggests vulnerability to contamination, O. lurida shells generally yield amino acid enantiomeric ratios that are analytically reproducible and stratigraphically consistent. The kinetics of racemization in O. lurida conceivably resembles that of Protothaca and Saxidomus, other bivalves whose kinetics of racemization are relatively well understood. Assuming such a resemblance, enantiomeric ratios in O. lurida imply that (1) unit M is the same approximate age as estuarine terrace deposits bordering San Pablo Bay and Carquinez Strait, providing that the terrace deposits have been at diagenetic temperatures 1°-2°C warmer than unit M; and (2) the age of unit N is about four times greater than that of unit M, providing that both units have been at the same approximate diagenetic temperature.

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Stratigraphy of Late Quaternary Estuarine Deposits and Amino Acid Stereochemistry of Oyster Shells Beneath San Francisco Bay, California

  • Brian F. Atwater (a1), Bruce E. Ross (a2) and John F. Wehmiller (a1)

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