The role of glacio-eustasy in sequence formation: Mid-Atlantic Continental Margin, USA

TitleThe role of glacio-eustasy in sequence formation: Mid-Atlantic Continental Margin, USA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsMcHugh, CM, Hartin, CA, Mountain, GS, Gould, HM
JournalMarine Geology
Pagination31 - 47
Date PublishedJan-11-2010
KeywordsHudson Canyon; Hudson Shelf Valley, Last glacial maximum, Mid-Atlantic Continental Margin, paleoshoreline, sequence stratigraphy

Previous studies of the Mid-Atlantic Continental Margin had shown the lack of correlation between Pleistocene glacio-eustatic oscillations and sequence boundaries. This study documents late Pleistocene to Holocene paleoenvironments within a seismic stratigraphic sequence in order to characterize sequence formation and the development of unconformities in response to glacio-eustatic oscillations. The data, high-resolution CHIRP subbottom profiling and 28 vibracores, were collected in water depths of 38 m to 145 m as part of the R/V Endeavor cruise 370 survey to the Mid-Atlantic Continental Margin. Sediment sources, sedimentary and seismic facies associated with the last major glaciation, and oxygen isotope stages OIS 5 to OIS 1 were examined and a chronology was constructed from mollusk assemblages of intertidal origin that allowed tracking the paleoshoreline from 19 to 6 ka BP.

The maximum extent of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) paleoshoreline at 17 ka BP was documented near the 120 m modern isobath. The shoreline was marked by sediment mounds up to 5 m high and troughs 15 m deep and 1 km wide (interpreted as shoreface and tidal inlet or lagoons) formed from 17 to 15 ka BP. Five kilometers seaward from the LGM shoreline and the head of the Hudson Canyon is a wedge-shaped feature interpreted as a lowstand delta. Sediments older than the last glacial, possibly OIS 3 or OIS 5, onlap a basal unconformity. We correlate this unconformity to a previously identified sequence boundary.

Approximately 20 m to 30 m of sediment accumulated on the outer shelf NE of the Hudson Canyon during the last glacial and little deposition has occurred since ~ 11 ka BP. The modern outershelf is covered by ~ 1 m of mollusk-rich glauconitic sand deposited from latest Pleistocene to early Holocene, 15 to 11 ka BP. These results showed a close correspondence between depositional environments and glacio-eustasy but sequence development and sequence boundary formation appeared to be influenced by the incomplete filling of accommodation space due to poor preservation during OIS 2 and low accumulation during the Holocene.