8. 16 Paleontological Resources




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8.16 Paleontological Resources


Paleontological resources are mineralized or fossilized remains of prehistoric plants and animals as well as mineralized impressions or trace fossils that provide indirect evidence of the form and activity of ancient organisms. Laws, ordinances, regulations and standards (LORS) applicable to protection of paleontological resources are provided below in Section 8.16.5.

In accordance with California Energy Commission Guidelines (CEC 1992) and Rules of Practice and Procedure & Power Plant Site Certification Regulations (CEC 1997), this paleontological analysis determines if significant paleontological resources are present in areas that could be adversely affected by the Metcalf Energy Center (MEC) Project. Mitigation measures are proposed to reduce potential adverse effects of the project to any significant paleontological resources that might be present. This analysis also complies with the draft guidelines and significance criteria issued in 1991 by the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP). Mr. David Lawler, a qualified paleontologist, carried out the paleontological resources assessment for this project and this section summarizes his Paleontological Resources Technical Report (cf. Lawler 1999) which is provided as Appendix 8.16A under separate cover to the CEC under a request for confidentiality because it contains sensitive resource location information.

A paleontological resource may be significant if:


  • It provides important information on the evolutionary trends among organisms, relating living organisms to extinct organisms.

  • It provides important information regarding development of biological communities or interaction between botanical and zoological biota.

  • It demonstrates unusual circumstances in biotic history.

  • It is in short supply and in danger of being depleted or destroyed by the elements, vandalism, or commercial exploitation, and is not found in other geographic localities.

Under CEQA guidelines, a significant effect on paleontological resources can occur when a proposed project will “disrupt or adversely affect…a paleontological site except as part of a scientific study” (CEQA Appendix G[j]). In keeping with significance criteria of the SVP (1991), all vertebrate fossils are categorized as being of significant scientific value.

8.16.1 Affected Environment


The MEC project area extends from the southern portion of San Jose, southward to just south of the historic settlement of Coyote, located approximately 5 miles north of Morgan Hill, Santa Clara County, California (Figures 8.16-1a and b). U.S. 101 traverses the eastern part of the project area. In the Coyote area, the topography consists of a series of elongated, narrow valleys flanked by adjoining ridges. In the northern part of the project area, the topography opens into a flat valley that represents the bay-estuary-coastal plain transition that merges with the San Francisco Peninsula geographic region. Tulare Hill and the prominent ridges to the east and west of the project area represent the most erosional resistant landforms in the project area.

The area of potential effect (APE) of the proposed MEC Project (see Figure 8.16-1a & b) includes:



  • Metcalf Energy Center Plant Site – 14 acres and laydown area (about 16 acres). The proposed power plant site will be located on flat terrain on the southeast side of Tulare Hill, with access from Monterey Road.

  • Alternative Plant Site A – Metcalf Road/Shingle Valley

  • Alternative Plant Site B – Bailey Avenue

  • Alternative Plant Site C – McKean Road

  • Proposed Access Road – a 0.25-mile-long new road corridor from Monterey Road (which crosses the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks) to the plant site

  • Alternative Access Road - a 0.76- mile-long new road corridor from Santa Teresa Boulevard (flanking Fisher Creek) to the plant site

  • Proposed Gas Line – a 0.99 mile-long (5,250 feet) corridor between the plant site and PG&E’s natural gas main pipeline using Segments 1 (2,000 feet), 3 (500 feet) and 4 (2,750 feet)

  • Alternative Gas Line Segment 2 – a 0.34 mile-long (1,800 feet) corridor segment between the plant site and PG&E’s natural gas main pipeline

  • Alternative Gas Line Segment 5 – a 0.50 mile-long (2,625 feet) corridor segment between the plant site and PG&E’s natural gas main pipeline

  • Alternative Gas Line Segment 6 - a 0.91 mile-long (4,800 feet) corridor segment between the plant site and PG&E’s natural gas backbone line

  • Proposed Electric Transmission Line – a 0.05 mile-long (250 feet) corridor between the plant site and existing transmission lines just north of the proposed plant site (Proposed T-Line)

  • Alternative 1 Electric Transmission Line – a 0.28 mile-long (1,500 feet) corridor between the plant site and the existing PG&E Metcalf Substation

  • Domestic Water Line – a 1.25 mile-long (6,600 feet) corridor from Well #23 to the proposed plant site along the west side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks

  • Proposed Recycled Water Line - a 7.29 mile-long (38,500 feet) corridor consisting of Segments A, H, and I (see below)

  • Alternative Recycled Water Line – a 7.95 mile-long (42,000 feet) corridor consisting of Segments A-1, D-1, G, and I (see below)

Recycled water line segments include the following:

A. 0.95 miles (5,000 feet)

A-1. 0.47 miles (2,500 feet)

B. 9.14 miles (48,250 feet)

C. 0.76 miles (4,000 feet)

D. 1.12 miles (5,900 feet)

D-1. 0.28 miles (1,500 feet)

E. 0.85 miles (4,500 feet)

F. 0.99 miles (5,250 feet)

G. 1.04 miles (5,500 feet)

H. 0.19 miles (1,000 feet)

I. 6.16 miles (32,500 feet)

J. 6.16 miles (32,500 feet)

K. 0.28 miles (1,500 feet)

L. 0.30 miles (1,600 feet)

M. 0.09 miles (500 feet)

N. 0.55 miles (2,900 feet)

O. 0.50 miles (2,625 feet)

Proposed Water Line route is A, H, and I (7.29 miles; 38,500 feet). Alternative Proposed Water Line route is A-1, D-1, G and I (7.95 miles; 42,000 feet).

8.16.1.1 Geological Background


Surficial sedimentary units of predominantly Pleistocene and Holocene to Recent age underlie the entire project area, particularly within the valleys. These sediments include depositions that range from continental alluvial, fluvial, terrace, and fan-derived sediments, to subaerial floodplain, to marine terrace, aeolian (dune), and near-shore deposits (mudflat, channel flat, tidal marsh, shallow bay, and lagoon). Lithologies include sand, gravel, silt, and clay; all of which are potentially favorable to the preservation of paleontological resources.

Rock outcrops that range in geologic age from Cretaceous-Jurassic to Pleistocene occur as surficial and subsurface deposits within the project area. These deformed and faulted sequences of sedimentary units have been described and mapped by Helley and Brabb (1971), Dibblee (1966), and Crittenden (1951). The lateral extent of the Jurassic to Quaternary alluvial (Qal) subunits has been determined from previous geological surface mapping.

Mesozoic sedimentary rock units (Franciscan Formation) underlie most of the project area and in the valleys, the Franciscan Formation is overlain by Quaternary age deposits or colluvium at the hillslope bases and adjacent to incised stream cut areas. In these hillslope areas the Franciscan Formation exposures are covered with colluvium and Quaternary sediment cover, which may exceed 30 feet. In the project area, the Franciscan Formation has been divided into two lithologies. Unit 1 represents a sandstone assemblage, while Unit 2 consists of shale, sandstone with minor-bedded chert and greenstone. The shale, chert, and sandstone lithologies are recognized as being potentially fossiliferous. The Franciscan Formation represents the oldest known sedimentary unit in the project area. Its geology and paleontology has been described by various investigators (Aalto 1981; Bailey 1964; Chipping 1971; Cloos 1981; Snetsinger 1976; Hinde 1894; Ghent 1963; Camp 1942; Hertein 1951; and Jones and Murchey 1984).

Cenozoic sedimentary rock units (Quaternary Undivided/Quaternary Alluvium) overlie major portions of project area valleys. The Quaternary rock units vary in facies type from conglomerates to sandstones to unconsolidated siltstone and clays, all of which are either fossiliferous or potentially fossiliferous. Gradual, long-term erosion and previous construction activity has removed parts of the Recent soil cover so that these Quaternary rock units and their contained fossils are now at or near the surface throughout most of the project area. These formations or part of the formations now exist at or near the surface with varying width across the project area terrain, but are obscured in most areas by soil, vegetation, or thin deposits of surficial sediment. Thus, visual detection of fossils is possible in those areas where natural erosion or man-made excavations during road, pipeline, or building site excavation or grading operations have removed this cover.

The majority of the project area is reportedly overlain by imported fill material. Given this fact, the potential paleontological sensitivity of a particular site within the project area has been determined from the distribution of known nearby fossil localities, and available mapping of the Quaternary alluvium (Qal) and Quaternary undifferentiated (Qu) outcrops.

8.16.1.2 Paleontological Background


The Santa Clara County-San Francisco Bay-Mt. Hamilton region contains a diverse record of geologic and biologic history, which spans more than 150 million years, dating from the Jurassic geologic period. Under the combined influences of regional tectonic events ranging from creation of the San Andreas Fault system to uplift of the San Francisco Peninsula – Mt. Hamilton region, deposition of sedimentary sequences and fluctuating worldwide sea level changes; fossils of marine and terrestrial organisms have accumulated to produce a significant record of prehistoric life.

Much of the paleontological interest within the project vicinity stems from the well known discoveries of Pleistocene age fossil vertebrate faunas derived from both the Quaternary age units within the southern San Francisco region as well as other parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. Identification and scientific description of both of these diverse fossil vertebrate assemblages from the greater San Francisco Bay Area, has provided scientists with one of the best known records of Pleistocene faunas in California (cf. Stirton 1939, 1951; Savage 1951; Wolf 1971; and Jefferson 1991). Preservation of near shore, marine terrace, estuarine, fluvial, riparian and other types of continental sedimentary deposits provided favorable conditions for preserving vertebrate fossil remains in these geologic units.

Paleontological resources have been found in both Mesozoic rock units (Franciscan Formation) and Cenozoic rock units (Quaternary (Qal/Qu), undifferentiated units). As noted earlier, the Franciscan Formation represents the oldest known sedimentary unit in the project area. Fossil vertebrates are extremely rare in the Franciscan Formation and only a few have been found to date. Camp (1942) described the anterior portion of an ichthyosaur skull found encased in a Franciscan chert cobble in Quaternary outwash gravels in Alameda County and assigned the taxonomic names Ichthyosaurus franciscanus and Ichthyosaurus californicus. The known invertebrate fauna consists mainly of a few molluscan genera (Ghent 1963; Bailey, et al. 1964) and a diversity of radiolarian and foraminifera microfossils, which have been instrumental in biostratigraphic dating of the rock units (Hinde 1894). The Franciscan Formation within the proposed MEC facilities and linear features may contain scientifically significant paleontologic resources as represented by the fossil remains of vertebrates, invertebrates and paleobotanical material.

As noted earlier, the Quaternary age sedimentary units in the project area have been described by Weaver (1949) who divided them into a generalized Quaternary age alluvial sediment unit (Qal) and an undifferentiated sediment unit for Quaternary sediments in the vicinity of the San Francisco Bay margin. Geologic contacts and paleontological sensitivity data displayed on Figure 8.16-2 reflect lumping of the Quaternary sediments into the generalized Qal/Qu units as defined by earlier geologists (e.g., Weaver 1949); a convention adopted to maintain geologic map continuity on the base map since previous geologists and paleontologists often interchanged this nomenclature.

Over 100 years of fossil vertebrate collecting in the San Francisco Bay region has produced one of the most extensive databases for understanding the fossil vertebrate record of the northern California coastal region. Only the southern California – Los Angeles Basin – Newport Beach area has yielded as much information on the Pleistocene coastal vertebrates of North America (Langenwalter 1975). The first record of a fossil vertebrate from this region was a fossil mammoth tooth from the San Pablo Bay area, as reported by Blake (1855).

Pleistocene age fossil vertebrate sites are known elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay region (Stirton 1939, 1951; Savage 1951, and Jefferson 1991). The Rodeo-Hercules Pleistocene microvertebrate fauna of the northeast Bay area has been extensively studied most recently by Wolf (1971, 1973, 1975) and consists of numerous small mammals including lagomorphs (rabbits), rodents, insectivores, and a variety of birds and lower vertebrates (frogs, lizards and snakes). Many of the fossil specimens represent the best-preserved specimens of particular Rancholabrean age taxa found to date (see Table 8.16-1).

The Irvingtronian age (early Pleistocene) large land mammal and microvertebrate fauna of the southeast Bay Area has also been extensively studied in previous years (Stirton 1939, 1951; and Savage 1951). It also consists of numerous small mammals including lagomorphs, rodents, insectivores, and a variety of birds and lower vertebrates. Large vertebrates include sloths, horses, camels, antilocaprids (antelopes), and a wide variety of carnivores including cats, bears, and canids. Many of the fossil specimens represent the best-preserved specimens of particular Irvingtonian age taxa found to date (see Table 8.16 2).

In comparison, the La Brea Tar Pit fossil mammal assemblage of upper Pleistocene age in the Los Angeles Basin is well known world-wide and is derived from the Palos Verdes Sand (upper part of Arnold’s San Pedro Formation) in the northwestern portion of the Los Angeles Basin. This assemblage includes a wide variety of carnivores (canids and felids), small to large ungulate herbivores (cervids, antilocaprids, camelids, equids, suiids), edentates (sloths), birds, rodents, and lower vertebrates. Also included at these sites are aquatic mammalian taxa including otter, whale, and dolphin as well as shark and teleost fish taxa.



Table 8.16-1

Pleistocene - Rancholabrean Land Mammal Age



Vertebrate Taxa List (Partial) - SF Bay Region

(Stirton 1951)

Rodentia

Spermophilidae

Citellus

Ground Squirrel

Rodentia

Cricetidae

Perognathus

Pocket Mouse

Rodentia

Cricetidae

Peromyscus

Pocket Mouse

Rodentia

Cricetidae

Neotoma

Wood Rat

Rodentia

Microtidae

Microtus

Meadow Vole

Rodentia

Geomyidae

Thomomys

Pocket Gopher

Carnivora

Canidae

Canis dirus

Dire Wolf

Carnivora

Canidae

Canis irvingtonensis

Coyote

Carnivora

Felidae

Smilodon

Sabre-Tooth Cat

Proboscidia

Mammutidae

Mammuthus columbi

Mammoth

Edentata




Nothrotherium
Megalonyx
Paramylodo


Ground Sloth
Ground Sloth
Ground Sloth

Perisodactyla

Tayassuidae




Peccary

Perisodactyla

Tapiridae

Taipirus cf. haysii

Tapir

Perisodactyla

Equidae

Equus sp.

Horse

Artiodactyla

Camelidae

Camelops herternus

Camel

Artiodactyla

Cervidae

Tetrameryx irvingtonensis

Deer

Artiodactyla

Cervidae

Odocoileus

Deer

Artiodactyla

Antilocapridae

Antilocapra (?)

Antelope

Artiodactyla

Antilocapridae

Breameryx cf. minor

Antelope

Artiodactyla

Bovidae

Euceratherium

Musk-Ox

Artiodactyla

Bovidae

Bison latifrons

Giant Bison

Artiodactyla

Bovidae

Bison cf. antiquus

Bison

Aves




Uria aalge

Murre




Table 8.16-2

Pleistocene - Irvingtonian Land Mammal Age



Vertebrate Taxa List (Partial) - SF Bay Region

(Stirton 1951)

Rodentia

Sejuridae

Citellus

Ground Squirrel

Rodentia

Cricetidae

Perognathus

Pocket Mouse

Rodentia

Cricetidae

Peromyscus

Pocket Mouse

Rodentia

Cricetidae

Neotoma

Wood Rat

Rodentia

Cricetidae

Microtus

Meadow Vole

Rodentia

Geomyidae

Thomomys

Pocket Gopher

Carnivora

Canidae

Canis dirus

Dire Wolf

Carnivora

Canidae

Canis irvingtonensis

Coyote

Carnivora

Felidae

Dinobastis

Sabre-Tooth Cat

Proboscidia

Mammutidae

Mammuthus columbi

Mammoth

Perisodactyla

Tayassuidae

unnamed species

Peccaries

Perisodactyla

Equidae

Equus sp.

Horse

Artiodactyla

Camelidae

Camelops minidokae

Camel

Artiodactyla

Camelidae

Tanupolama

Camel

Artiodactyla

Cervidae

Tetrameryx irvingtonensis

Deer

Artiodactyla

Cervidae

Odocoileus

Deer

Artiodactyla




Euceratherium

Musk-Ox

Aves




Banta canadensis

Goose

Reptilia

Emydidae




Turtle Family

Vertebrate sites in the South San Francisco Bay – Mt. Hamilton region have yielded several significant fossil vertebrate specimens (see Lawler 1999:Appendix 8.16A – UCMP Paleontological Data). All data reviewed corroborates the existence of a geological equivalent unnamed older Qal Pleistocene age equivalents within the project area.

While no known paleontological sites exist within one mile of the project area, fossil mammal assemblages have been collected from Quaternary sediments bordering southern San Francisco Bay (e.g., UCMP V91128 – the Lawrence Expressway site and UCMP V90055 – the Cupertino-Calabazas Creek site) as well as one site to the south of the project area in Qal Irvingtonian-age sediments in the Anderson Dam-Morgan Hill area (UCMP V930370 (see Lawler 1999:Appendix 8.16A). Both the San Francisco Bay margin and the San Francisco Peninsula areas have produced fossil proboscidian (elephant), camel, and bison (buffalo) specimens.

Paleontological localities occurring in both rock units more than one mile from the project area, but within a 10-mile radius, contain scientifically important paleontological resources that represent a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic vertebrate taxa including mammoth, camel, bison, and horse – terrestrial mammalian taxa (see UCMP confidential fossil locality and specimen data in Lawler 1999:Appendix 8.16A). The sandstone, silt, and clay lithologies of both geologic units are favorable for exceptional preservation of vertebrate, and microvertebrate fossil resources. Stratigraphic occurrences of all localities have been assigned to the Pleistocene Quaternary alluvium (Qal) or Qu units.

Earth-fill and cement materials as well as other existing greater San Jose area residential and industrial facilities and infrastructure are expected to have either removed or obscured exposures of the Qal sediments in some areas. Occurrences of these stratigraphic units at near surface depths are quite probable, given the fact that weak to strong structural folding of the entire Jurassic-Pleistocene geologic section within and immediately adjacent to the project area has been documented by structural and stratigraphic geological studies (Weaver 1949; Blake, et al. 1994; Bailey 1964).

No other projects with a designated paleontological component are known to have been conducted previous field or literature surveys or produced sensitivity maps or reports within or adjacent to the project area.

While Quaternary alluvium and Quaternary undifferentiated deposits of Pleistocene age occur locally within the project area, usage of the Qal and Qu geologic symbol designations on available geologic maps of the southern San Francisco Bay – San Francisco Peninsula to Mt. Hamilton region is highly variable and suggests that geologic units ranging from Quaternary age stream, terrace, fluvial, alluvial fan, floodplain, slope debris and ravine fill deposits may be lumped under this designation, particularly where geologic data has been scarce, due to urban development (compare Sims 1973 and Graymer 1994). Thus, paleontological resources can potentially vary greatly in distribution and taxa as a result of this generalization or lumping of geologic units into Qal and Qu.

Finally, sediments of probable Holocene or post-Holocene age that form the thin, surficial cover are considered to be of limited paleontological interest and are thus considered inconsequential.

8.16.1.3 Literature Search


Information was compiled from published records of previous geologic and paleontological investigations. Also compiled were published descriptions of the geology, unpublished paleontological research papers, museum records, and interviews conducted with individuals having first-hand knowledge of the resources in the project areas. Sources consulted included regional geologic maps compiled by the California Division of Mines and Geology (CDMG) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 1:24,000 and 1:62,500 scale maps.

Fossil locality records were reviewed and fossil specimens inspected (when possible) at the following institutions, which provided most of the data concerning distribution of known fossil resources:



  • University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) – Dr. Patricia Holroyd (Vertebrate Collections Manager). March 23, 1999.

  • Dr. David L. Jones, Geologist and Paleontologist. Professor emeritus, University of California, Berkeley. March 3, 1999.

  • Dr. Russell W. Graymer, Geologist. U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park. March 23, 1999.

8.16.1.4 Field Survey


The potential to encounter significant paleontological resources during the field survey was assessed with reference to the presence of lithostratigraphic units that have potential to yield significant paleontological resources. Three categories of paleontological potential are used in this report according to CEC standards and rating categories are to be considered interpretive and subject to change as new information are obtained. High, moderate and low potential ratings are defined as follows:

  • High Sensitivity: Rock units with a high potential for significant paleontological resources are known to have yielded vertebrate fossils within the project area or region. This does not imply that vertebrate fossils will always be recovered from a high sensitivity rock unit, but only that fossil occurrence has been recorded within the unit. Other factors that are considered pertain to inferred depositional environment and lithology.

  • Moderate Sensitivity: Rock units possessing some degree of potential, such as a favorable depositional environment for resource preservation or lithologically similar rock units in the region, have yielded vertebrate fossils.

  • Low Sensitivity: Rock units containing lithologies that do not commonly preserve significant fossil resources (i.e., coarse conglomerates, welded or ignimbrite volcanic ash deposits). Igneous rocks, such as the grandiorite outcrops in the northern part of the project area, are precluded from preservation of paleontological resources due to their genesis within a magmatic environment.

The paleontological field survey conducted by Mr. Lawler on March 6 and 7, 1999 consisted of an evaluation of the paleontological potential within the footprint of facilities plus a one-mile-wide buffer surrounding the proposed facilities. The actual area of potential effect was considered to be within the footprint of any proposed excavation. The portions of the project footprint north of Tulare Hill consist of areas that have been largely developed for industrial, commercial or residential purposes. Few, undisturbed open exposures with native soils were available for inspection (with the exception of stream drainages).

While no paleontological resources were positively identified during the March 6-7 field survey, red chert clasts were identified in the modern stream gravels of Coyote Creek field as well as in situ within older Pleistocene gravels along Route 1, L and M segments. A sample of these clasts were collected from both areas during the survey and submitted to the laboratory for processing, since clasts of this rock type often yield identifiable radiolarian microfossils.

Since paleontological resources are lithologically dependent (i.e., deposition and preservation of paleontological resources is tied to the lithologic unit in which they occur), if rock types representing a depositional environment conducive to deposition and preservation of fossils are not favorable, fossils will not be present. The potential for paleontological resources to be present is based on the paleontological sensitivity of the lithologic unit.

Analysis of pre-construction field survey data and museum record and specimen collections data, combined with the distribution of known fossil localities in the region in combination with geologic maps and known geologic formation outcrop patterns, permitted classification of paleontological resource sensitivity areas. This method provides a coarse-scale resolution of areas likely to contain fossils in particular types of sedimentary deposits. Sensitivity assessments and survey findings and recommendations for the plant site and each linear facility are detailed in Table 8.16-3. The sensitivity ratings are arranged by rock unit; in this instance Qal or the more generalized sedimentary unit Qu and Jf (Franciscan Formation) are the only units of significance.



TABLE 8.16-3

Sensitivity Assessments and Survey Findings/Recommendations




Segment Description Length


Rock Formation

Sensitivity Rating

Survey Findings/
Recommendations


MEC Plant site

Ultrabasic
Qal/Qu

None
High

Monitor construction only in areas with Qal/Qu deposits

Proposed Gas Line

Qal/Qu

High

Monitor construction

Proposed Electrical Trans. Line

Ultrabasic
Qal/Qu

None
High

Monitor construction only in areas with Qal/Qu deposits

Proposed Recycled Water Line

Jf
Qal/Qu


Low
High

Monitor construction only in areas with Qal/QU deposits

Domestic Water Line

Qal/Qu

High

Monitor construction

Proposed Access Road

Qal/Qu

High

Monitor construction


8.16.2 Environmental Consequences


It is often the case that monitoring excavations can reveal the paleontological content of a formation at a specific location. In keeping with CEC guidance, for this analysis Mr. Lawler assumed that “if the rock units in the geologic formations which are to be disturbed have a high or moderate potential to contain fossil materials, these formations are considered likely to incur impacts” (CEC, 1992:3.10-5).

8.16.2.1 Plant Site and Laydown Area


The MEC plant site and associated laydown area was inspected by Mr. Lawler (Lawler 1999). He recommends that a paleontologist spot-check excavation spoils for significant paleontological materials, where site grading and excavation activity is expected to penetrate below the depth of surface disturbance due to previous residential, industrial or road construction activities or emplacement of artificial fill materials. Portions of the MEC plant site that will be constructed on the Tulare Hill are in the Ultrabasic rock unit and will require no monitoring.

8.16.2.2 Proposed Gas Line


Mr. Lawler (1999) recommends intermittent monitoring of excavation spoils where the pipeline right of way is not entirely in artificial fill material or subject to significant ground disturbance due to the roadway, residential or industrial construction activities. The least disturbed areas are located in the Coyote Creek drainage. Samples of red chert clasts should be collected during the monitoring and submitted to the laboratory for processing to obtain identifiable radiolarian microfossils.

8.16.2.3 Proposed Electrical Transmission Line (T-Line)


For the portion of the site that is on flat-lying ground, it is recommended that a paleontologist intermittently examine excavation spoils for significant paleontological materials during excavation for transmission towers, since they may penetrate below the level of previous surface disturbance. However, the northern portion that may extend onto the higher slopes of Tulare Hill, won’t require monitoring since it consists only of non-fossiliferous Ultrabasic rocks.

8.16.2.4 Proposed Recycled Water Line


It is recommended that a paleontologist spot-check excavation spoils for significant paleontological materials, where site grading and excavation activity is expected to penetrate below the depth of surface disturbance due to previous residential, industrial or road construction activities or road construction activities or emplacement of artificial fill materials. Samples of red chert clasts should be collected from Pleistocene sediments (Qal/Qu) along the Route 1, segments L and M ROW during the monitoring and submitted to the laboratory for processing to obtain identifiable radiolarian microfossils.

8.16.2.5 Domestic Water Line


It is recommended that a paleontologist spot-check excavation spoils for significant paleontological materials, where site grading and excavation activity is expected to penetrate below the depth of surface disturbance due to previous residential, industrial or road construction activities or road construction activities or emplacement of artificial fill materials.

8.16.2.6 Proposed Access Road


It is recommended that a paleontologist spot-check excavation spoils for significant paleontological materials, where site grading and excavation activity is expected to penetrate below the depth of surface disturbance due to previous residential, industrial or road construction activities or road construction activities or emplacement of artificial fill materials.

8.16.3 Cumulative Impacts


If the project were to encounter paleontological finds during construction, the potential cumulative effect would be low, as long as mitigative measures were implemented to recover the resources. The mitigative measures proposed (Section 8.16.4) would effectively recover the value to science of significant fossils recovered as long as they were properly carried out.

8.16.4 Mitigation Measures


The literature review and data analysis did not identify any specific fossil localities that might be affected by MEC. Subsurface probing was not carried out because surficial exposures of undisturbed deposits were not identified during the survey. Discovery during construction is possible, based on the nature and sensitivity of the underlying formations. It is recommended that limited construction monitoring coupled with the mitigation measures outlined below should be implemented during construction.

  • Preconstruction Assessment and Construction Crew Training—The paleontological monitor will visit the project area before construction begins to become familiar with the site conditions and to conduct a brief pre-construction paleontological reconnaissance designed to identify areas that might have particular sensitivity. Before construction, the paleontological monitor will conduct a worker education session for construction supervisory personnel to explain the importance of, and legal basis for, the protection of significant paleontological resources. This worker education session can take place at the same time as the cultural resources training session (Section 8.3.4) since both disciplines will involve the monitoring of excavation activities (although in different areas). Information about paleontological resources may be combined with information about cultural resources in the training brochure that will be distributed to construction supervisory personnel.

  • Construction Monitoring—The monitor should be present on an intermittent basis when excavation is taking place within paleontologically sensitive areas (see Table 8.16-3 above). At the discretion of the paleontologist, the intensity of monitoring may be increased or reduced, depending on the paleontologist’s reassessment of the paleontological sensitivity of the excavated area as construction reveals subsurface soil and geological conditions. The monitor’s role is to check for significant fossils unearthed during ground-disturbing activities. In order to check for the presence of significant small to microscopic-sized fossils, the monitor will periodically inspect excavation spoil by sifting or washing (through 1/8-inch mesh screen) samples of excavation spoil to look for fragmentary or small preserved fossils.

  • Emergency Discovery Procedures — If the construction monitor identifies paleontological resources during construction, he or she will immediately notify the Site Superintendent, who will halt construction in the immediate vicinity of the find, as necessary. The Site Superintendent and paleontologist will use flagging tape, rope, or some other means as necessary to delineate the area of the find within which construction will halt. This area should include the excavation trench from which the paleontological finds were unearthed, as well as any piles of dirt or rock spoil from that area. Construction should not take place within the delineated find area until the paleontologist, in consultation with California Energy Commission (CEC) staff, can inspect and evaluate the find.

  • Reduction of Impact Through Design Modification — An attempt will be made to modify facility design or placement to avoid further impact. Modifications could include a change in tower type, placement of fill to replace grading, or minor re-siting of a structure or road.

  • Protection During Construction Through Access Restrictions, Construction Restrictions — If a significant paleontological locality is discovered near a direct impact area, the resource will be protected during the construction period through temporary or permanent measures, which may include construction period covenants against vehicular traffic and excavation within the locality, and/or permanent or temporary fencing.

  • Paleontological Monitoring, Construction Period Sampling, and Data Recovery If a find is made, it may be possible to mechanically remove bulk samples of soil matrix to process the samples offsite for fossil extraction. This would avoid delaying construction in a given area. Fossiliferous paleosols encountered should be investigated in this way by sampling, rather than processing of the entire fossiliferous soil horizon. The paleontologist should determine the sample size necessary to obtain a representative description of the soil unit’s contents. In accordance with SVP standard procedures, this amount should not be greater than 6,000 pounds per fossiliferous geological horizon, stratum, or paleosol, unless special circumstances such as unusual fossil abundance or significance warrant that a larger sample be taken. Depending on the density of individual soils, this would amount to between 12 and 15 cubic yards of soil.

Finds will be considered significant if they consist of complete or nearly complete members of any vertebrate species, large or small. Finds may be designated significant if they:

  • Provide important information regarding evolutionary trends among organisms

  • Provide important information regarding the development of biological communities or interaction between plants and animals

  • Demonstrate unusual or remarkable circumstances in the history of life

  • Are in short supply and danger of being depleted or destroyed by the elements, vandalism, or commercial exploitation

The project paleontologist will prepare recovered specimens (clean and remove attached rock matrix) to the extent that identification is possible and the find is stabilized for preservation. If recovered specimens shall be identified and cataloged. The paleontologist will arrange for curation of significant fossils collected during the monitoring of project construction at a qualified curation facility. A qualified curation facility is a recognized, non-profit paleontological repository with a permanent Curator, such as the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California at Berkeley. The paleontologist shall submit field notes, geological maps, and other materials developed as part of the fossil recovery program to the curation facility along with the fossil specimens. If significant fossils are found during construction, the paleontologist shall prepare a report summarizing the monitoring and fossil salvage program. This report should describe the site geology and stratigraphy and list and describe significant fossils recovered and explain their significance. This report should be submitted to the curation facility with the collection.

Following these mitigation measures would lower any potential project effects on paleontological resources below the threshold of significance. While it is possible that the project could encounter significant fossils, the monitor would be present to detect, evaluate, and recover them. These measures would therefore be effective.


8.16.5 Laws, Ordinances, Regulations, and Standards


Paleontological resources are classified as a non-renewable scientific-cultural resource and are protected most notably by the 1906 Federal Antiquities Act and other subsequent federal legislation and policies and by the State of California’s environmental regulations (CEQA, Section 15064.5).

Significant paleontological resources are defined in this report to include the interpretation outlined by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in 1991 wherein vertebrate fossils are considered significant.

The CEC environmental review process under the Warren-Alquist Act is considered functionally equivalent to that of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (Public Resources Code Sections 15000 et seq.) with respect to paleontological resources. CEQA’s Appendix G (Public Resources Code Sections 21000 et seq.) lists among its significant effects when a project will “disrupt or adversely affect…a paleontological site except as part of a scientific study.”

Other state requirements for paleontological resources management are in Public Resources Code Chapter 1.7 Section 5097.5 Archaeological, Paleontological, and Historical Sites. This statute specifies that state agencies may undertake surveys, excavations, or other operations as necessary on state lands to preserve or record paleontological resources. It would apply if the state or a state agency were to obtain ownership of lands within the project APE during the term of the project license.

Federal protection for significant paleontological resources would apply to the project if any construction or other related project impacts occur on federally owned lands. Federal legislative protection for paleontological resources stems from the Antiquities Act of 1906 (PL 59-209; 16 United States Code [USC] 431 et seq.; 34 Stat. 225), which calls for protection of historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest on federal land. Applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards (LORS) are shown in Table 8.16-4.

Table 8.16-4

Applicable Laws, Ordinances, Regulations, and Standards




LORS



Applicability



AFC Reference


Project Conformity

CEQA, Appendix G

Project construction may encounter paleontological resources

Section 8.16.4

yes

Public Resources Code, Sections 5097.5/5097.9

Would apply only if some project land acquired by state

Section 8.16.5

yes

Antiquities Act of 1906

Protects paleontological resources from vandalism and unauthorized collecting on federal land

Section 8.16.5

yes


8.16.6 Involved Agencies and Agency Contacts


There are no state agencies having specific jurisdiction over paleontological resource issues.

8.16.7 Permits Required and Schedule


This project does not require federal, state, or local permits for paleontological resource management.

8.16.8 References


Aalto, K.R. 1981. Multistage melange formation in the Franciscan Complex, northernmost California. Geology 9(12):602-607.

Bailey, E.H. 1962. Metamorphic facies of the Franciscan Formation of California and their geologic significance [abs.]. Geological Society of America Special Paper 68:4-5.

_______. 1964. Geology and Quicksilver Deposits of the New Almaden District, Santa Clara County, California. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 260.

Bailey, E.H., W.P. Irwin and D.L.Jones. 1964. Franciscan and related Rocks, and their Significance in the Geology of Western California. California Division of Mines and Geology Bulletin 183.

Berkland, J.O. 1965. Origin of the red and green color in the radiolarian cherts of the Franciscan Formation, California [abs.]. Geological Society of American Special Paper 82.

Blake, M.C., Jr. (ed.). 1984. Franciscan Geology of Northern California. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists – Pacific Section, Publication 43.

Blake, M.C., Jr., J.A. Bartow, V.A. Frizzell, J. Schlocker, D. Sorg., C.M. Wentworth, and R.H. Wright. 1974. Preliminary Geologic Map of Marin and San Francisco Counties and Parts of Alameda, Contra Costa, and Sonoma Counties, California. U.S. Geological Survey, Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-574. Scale 1:48,000.

Blake, W.P. 1855. Remains of the Mammoth and Mastodon in California. American Journal of Science and the Arts, Series 2, Volume 19, (No. 55), 133p.

Bonilla. 1998. Geological Map of parts of San Francisco and San Mateo Counties, California. U.S. Geological Survey, Open File Report 98-354.

California Energy Commission (CEC). 1997. Rules of Practice and Procedure & Power Plant Site Certification Regulations. Sacramento.

_______. 1992. Instructions to the California Energy Commission Staff for the Review of and Information Requirements for an Application for Certification. Energy Facilities Siting and Environmental Protection Division, Sacramento.

Camp, C.L. 1942. Ichthyosaur rostra from central California. Journal of Paleontology 6:362-371.

Chipping, D.H. 1971a. Franciscan Formation near Bodega Bay and Jenner, California. In Geologic guide to the Northern Coast Ranges, Point Reyes Region, California, p. 47-57. Geological Society of Sacramento, Sacramento, California.

_______. 1971b. Paleoenvironmental significance of chert in the Franciscan Formation of western California. Geological Society of America Bulletin 82(6):1707-1711.

Cloos, M. 1981. Structural and metamorphic constraints on melange formation in the Franciscan subduction complex, California. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 13(7):428.

Crittenden, M.D., Jr. 1951. Geology of the San Jose – Mt. Hamilton area, California. California Division of Mines and Geology Bulletin 157.

Dibblee, T.W. Jr. 1966. Geologic Map of the Palo Alto 15-Minute Quadrangle, California. California Division of Mines Geology, Map Sheet 8, Scale 1:62,500.

Gabb, W.M. 1864. Description of the Cretaceous Fossils. California Geological Survey, 1864, Paleontology, Volume 1, p. 58-81, 102-236.

Ghent, E.D. 1963. Fossil evidence for maximum age of metamorphism in part of the Franciscan Formation, northern Coast Ranges, California. In Short Contributions to California Geology. California Division of Mines Geology Special Report 82.

Graymer, R.W. and E.J. Heeley. 1997. Quaternary Geology Map of Contra Costa County and Surrounding Parts of Sonoma, Solano, Sacramento, and San Joaquin Counties, California: A Digital Database. U.S. Geological Survey, Open File Report 97-98. Scale 1:75,000.

Graymer, R.W., D.L. Jones, and E.E. Brabb. 1994. Preliminary Geologic Map Emphasizing Bedrock Formations in Contra Costa County, California: A Digital Database. U.S. Geological Survey, Open-File Report 94:622. Scale 1:75,000.

Helley, E.J. and E.E. Brabb. 1971. Geologic Map of the Late Cenozoic Deposits, Santa Clara County, California. U.S. Geological Survey/U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Map Contribution 27. Scale 1:62,500 (3 sheets).

Hertlein, L.G. 1951. Invertebrate Fossils and Fossil Localities in the San Francisco Bay Region. In Geological Guidebook of the San Francisco Bay Counties. California Division of Mines and Geology Bulletin 154.

Jefferson, G.T. 1991. A Catalog of Late Quaternary Vertebrates from California: Part One, Non-marine Lower Vertebrates and Avian Taxa. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Technical Report No. 5.

Jones, D.L. and B.L. Murchey. 1984. Age and significance of chert in the Franciscan Complex in the San Francisco Bay Region. In, M.C. Blake, Jr. (ed.), Franciscan Geology of Northern California. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists – Pacific Section, Publication 43.

Lawler, D. 1999. Paleontological Resources Technical Report, Metcalf Energy Center, Santa Clara County, California. Manuscript on file, California Energy Commission

Miller, W.E. 1971. Pleistocene Vertebrates of the Los Angeles Basin and Vicinity (Exclusive of Rancho LaBrea). Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History Science Bulletin 10(4): 47-142.

Savage, D.E. 1949. University of California – Museum of Paleontology. Field Notes, January 18, 1948, 2 pages, Packwood Gravels – Field Tour.

_______. 1951. Late Cenozoic Vertebrates of the San Francisco Bay Region. University of California Publications in Geological Science 28(10):215-314, Berkeley.

Snetsinger, K.G. 1976. Rock types of the Franciscan Formation, Coyote Hills, Alameda County, California. California Geology 29(8):174-77.

Stirton, R.A. 1939. Late Cenozoic Vertebrates of the San Francisco Bay Region. University of California Publications in Geological Science 24:339-410, Berkeley.

______. 1951. Prehistoric Land Mammals of the San Francisco Bay Region. California Division of Mines and Geology, Regional Map Series, Bulletin 154:177-186.

SVP (Society for Vertebrate Paleontology). 1994. Measures for Assessment and Mitigation of Adverse Impacts to Non-renewable Paleontologic Resources: Standard Procedures. Manuscript.

Wagner, D.L. 1967. San Jose Sheet, Geologic Map of California. California Division of Mines and Geology. Scale 1:250,000.

Weaver, C.E. 1949. Geology of the Coast Ranges – North San Francisco Bay Region. Geological Society of America Memoir 35.

Wolf, R.G. 1971. Paleoecology of a Late Pleistocene (Rancholabrean) Vertebrate Fauna from Rodeo, California. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 136 p., unpublished.

_______. 1973. Hydrodynamic Sorting and Ecology of Late Pleistocene Mammalian Assemblage from California (USA). Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 13:91-102.

_______. 1975. Sampling and Sample Size in Ecological Analyses of Fossil Mammals. Paleobiology 1(2): 195-202.



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