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Atlantic continental margin of the United States

January 1, 1982

The objective of this Decade of North American Geology (D-NAG) volume will be to focus on the Mesozoic and Cenozoic evolution of the U.S. Atlantic continental margin, including the onshore coastal plain, related onshore Triassic-Jurassic rift grabens, and the offshore basins and platforms. Following multiple compressional tectonic episodes between Africa and North America during the Paleozoic Era that formed the Appalachian Mountains, the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras were dominated by tensional tectonic processes that separated Africa and North America. Extensional rifting during Triassic and Early Jurassic times resulted in numerous tensional grabens both onshore and offshore, which filled with nonmarine continental red beds, lacustrine deposits, and volcanic flows and debris. The final stage of this breakup between Africa and North America occurred beneath the present outer continental shelf and continental slope during Early or Middle Jurassic time when sea-floor spreading began to form new oceanic crust and lithosophere between the two continents as they drifted apart. Postrift subsidence of the marginal basins continued in response to cooling of the lithosphere and sedimentary loading.

Geophysical surveys and oil-exploration drilling along the U.S. Atlantic continental margin during the past 5 years are beginning to answer many questions concerning its deep structure and stratigraphy and how it evolved during the rifting and early sea-floor-spreading stages of the separation of this region from Africa. Earlier geophysical studies of the U.S. continental margin used marine refraction and submarine gravity measurements. Single-channel seismic-reflection, marine magnetic, aeromagnetic, and continuous gravity measurements became available during the 1960s.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1982
Title Atlantic continental margin of the United States
DOI 10.1130/DNAG-SPEC-v1.143
Authors John A. Grow, Robert E. Sheridan
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Series Title DNAG Special Publication
Series Number 1
Index ID 70196052
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center