Outcrops of an ash bed at several localities in northern California and western Nevada belong to a single air-fall ash layer, the informally named Rockland ash bed, dated at about 400,000 yr B.P. The informal Rockland pumice tuff breccia, a thick, coarse, compound tephra deposit southwest of Lassen Peak in northeastern California, is the near-source equivalent of the Rockland ash bed. Relations between initial thickness of the Rockland ash bed and distances to eruptive source suggest that the eruption was at least as great as that of the Mazama ash from Crater Lake, Oregon. Identification of the Rockland tephra allows temporal correlation of associated middle Pleistocene strata of diverse facies in separate depositional basins. Specifically, marine, littoral, estuarine, and fluvial strata of the Hookton and type Merced formations correlate with fluvial strata of the Santa Clara Formation and unnamed alluvium of Willits Valley and the Hollister area, in northwestern and west-central California, and with lacustrine beds of Mohawk Valley, fluvial deposits of the Red Bluff Formation of the eastern Sacramento Valley, and fluvial and glaciofluvial deposits of Fales Hot Spring, Carson City, and Washoe Valley areas in northeastern California and western Nevada. Stratigraphic relations of the Rockland ash bed and older tephra layers in the Great Valley and near San Francisco suggest that the southern Great Valley emerged above sea level about 2 my ago, that its southerly outlet to the ocean was closed sometime after about 2 my ago, and that drainage from the Great Valley to the ocean was established near the present, northerly outlet in the vicinity of San Francisco Bay about 0.6 my ago.