William Phipps Blake (1826–1910) and Thomas Antisell (1817–1893) served as geologists on Pacific Railroad Surveys undertaken in California during 1853–1855 for the purpose of determining feasible railroad routes. They produced some of the earliest geologic accounts, maps and cross sections for the region, for which surveying parties assessing right-of-way grades provided a fair amount of topographic control. They also produced a regional stratigraphy, chiefly lithology-based but with some biostratigraphic control for Cenozoic map units. The extent of Neogene uplift of the Coast Ranges and of Pleistocene lakes in the Mojave Desert region was recognized according to elevated shorelines and orogenic activity by recent volcanism and earthquake activity.

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