Geology of the Area:
The cliffside of this beach contains shale from the Monterey Formation. The fossiliferous shale dates back to the Miocene epoch. There are talus slopes in many areas created by folded and slanted strata.
Be careful of falling shale from the cliffside. Although it poses a hazard, the fallen rocks are more convenient to split than extracting shale from the outcropping. Split fishes can be found near the bottoms of the formation. Additionally, petrified whale bone has been recovered on the beach.
As you can see in the figure above, three prominent outcroppings jut out from the Monterey formation, marked 1, 2, and 3 on figures B and C above. Figure A shows that Jalama Beach, to the left of Gaviota, is part of the Monterey Formation bearing marine Miocene fauna, and Oligocene rocks are found more inland.
Fossil fish and petrified whale bone are in the outcroppings.
Use this Stanford Study of Lompoc Fossil Fishes to identify your fish finds.
David Jordan, et.al, “Fossil Fishes of Diatom Beds of Lompoc, California,” (Stanford University, 1920)
Images: “Jalama Beach,” (The Nautiloid Network) www.nautiloid.net
Kathleen Surpless, et.al, “Evolution and stratigraphic architecture of marine slope gully complexes: Monterey Formation (Miocene), Gaviota Beach, California,” (Trinity University, March 27, 2007)