Late Eocene chemosynthetic? bivalves from suspect cold seeps, Wagonwheel Mountain, central California
"An anomalous pair of small, isolated calcareous sandstone bodies in the middle member of the upper Eocene Wagonwheel Formation, Wagonwheel Mountain, of the San Joaquin Valley, California, contain numerous articulated specimens of soft-bottom-dwelling bivalves. The lucinid bivalve Epilucina washingtoniana (Clark, 1925) dominates the fauna, which also sparingly contains the thyasirid bivalve Conchocele bisecta (Conrad, 1849) and the vesicomyid bivalve Vesicomya (Vesicomya) aff. V. (V.) tschudi Olsson, 1931. The fossils in the pair of calcareous sandstone bodies, which are surrounded by deep-water silty mudstone barren of megafossils, most likely represent cold-seep communities in the upper bathyal environment. These cold seeps apparently were formed by diffusive flow through coarse sand-fill material in submarine channels. Epilucina washingtoniana was previously known only from upper Eocene rocks on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, and in Santa Barbara County, southern California. This species, along with a late Eocene species from Colombia, South America, are the earliest representatives of Epilucina. The Wagonwheel Formation contains one of the earliest records of Conchocele bisecta, which is a widespread Cenozoic fossil and is extant in the north Pacific. The species of Vesicomya in the Wagonwheel Formation is the earliest record of Vesicomya s.s. and has close affinity to Vescicomya (Vesicomya) tschudi Olsson, 1931, from the upper Oligocene of northwestern Peru, South America. As in the case of Conchocele bisecta, Vesicomya s.s. has not been reported previously from the Eocene of California."