Pleistocene chronology of continental margin sedimentation: New insights into traditional models, New Jersey

TitlePleistocene chronology of continental margin sedimentation: New insights into traditional models, New Jersey
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsMcHugh, CMG, Olson, HC
JournalMarine Geology
Date PublishedJul 10
ISBN Number0025-3227
Keywordsbaltimore canyon, coastal-plain, glacioeustasy, global sea-level, isotopes, late quaternary sedimentation, mass-wasting, new-york, north-atlantic, northwest atlantic, passive margin, Pleistocene, sedimentary processes, sequence stratigraphy, shelf, slope

Commonly accepted models for the evolution of continental margins link sediment erosion, transport and deposition to eustasy. To test these models, we constructed an oxygen isotope record from 520 m of Pleistocene sediment recovered by the Ocean Drilling Program Leg 174A from the New Jersey continental slope. The delta(18)O record was calibrated to SPECMAP oxygen isotope time scale [Imbrie et al. (1984), in: Berger et al. (Eds.), Milankovitch and Climate, 269-305] with radiocarbon ages, nannoplankton biostratigraphy, magnetostratigraphy, and opal and calcium carbonate stratigraphy. Sixteen glacial/interglacial fluctuations of global ice volume have been recorded in the Pleistocene: oxygen isotope stages (OIS) 1 (partial), 2-4, 5 (partial) and 8 throughout 18. Contrary to predicted sedimentation models, a classification of mass-wasting deposits, based on variations in the styles of soft-sediment deformation and grain size, shows that: (1) mass-wasting is not restricted to glacial times but is present during both glacial and interglacial stages; (2) glacial stages are dominated by fine-grained sediments some of which were deposited by gravity flows; and (3) the transitions from glacial to interglacial stages are characterized by the deposition of coarse sands. The sedimentary record shows large-scale trends that do not fit the traditional models of higher glacial sedimentation rates since there is no consistent variation in sediment accumulation between glacial and interglacial stages. Instead there are longer-term sedimentation patterns. Uniform sedimentation rates of 62 cm/kyr characterize the early middle Pleistocene (OIS 12-18), followed by varying rates from low to very high for three consecutive time periods: OIS 11 to 9 (98-560 cm/kyr), OIS 8 (52-560 cm/kyr), and OIS 5 to 2 (37-353 cm/kyr). Each of these depositional units is contained within one seismic-stratigraphic sequence and bounded by sequence boundaries. Their deposition was influenced by the supply of sediment rather than eustasy. Sediment supply was modulated by: (1) the transition from the dominance of obliquity to that of eccentricity (OIS 18-12 to OIS 11-1); and (2) the proximity of the ice sheet (located similar to 150 km away from the paleoshoreline during the last glacial maximum). (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.