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Glacially-influenced late Pleistocene stratigraphy of a passive margin: New Jersey's Record of the North American ice sheet

January 1, 2005

Glacial isostasy and the sediment supply changes associated with the waxing and waning of ice sheets have dramatic effects on the stratigraphy of adjacent continental shelves. In ancient stratigraphic records, the glacial influences on such deposits could be difficult to recognize because of the removal of coeval terrestrial glacial deposits by erosion. This study illustrates the effects of the Laurentide Ice Sheet on a basin near its maximum limit, the New Jersey continental shelf. Analysis of 1600 km of Geopulse???, Uniboom???, Minisparker??? and airgun profiles reveals four depositional sequences that have a maximum thickness of ???75 m near the shelf edge. Sequences I and IV correspond to the major glacial-interglacial sea level changes at Marine Isotope Chron (MIC) 6/5e and 2/1, whereas sequences II and III reflect smaller-scale sea-level fluctuations during chrons 4/3c and 3b/3a, respectively. Sequences I and IV are characterized by relatively thick low stand to early transgressive deposits near the shelf edge formed during times of increased sediment supply, but are thin and discontinuous across much of the shelf. Reflection horizons in these units deepen northward in the northern half of the study area due to collapse of a peripheral bulge that formed at the margin of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. The Hudson River moved from a more southerly drainage pattern to the modern Hudson Shelf Valley position, possibly under the influence of the advancing peripheral bulge. Sequences II and III are largely preserved within a broad mid-shelf swale likely created by the migration of an ancestral Hudson River, and their thickness implies much higher sedimentation rates during chrons 4 and 3 than seen today. If the terrestrial glacial record was eroded, the increased rates of sedimentation during the Pleistocene, dominance of sediments derived from northern New England, and northward tilting of strata could be interpreted as a result of uplift of a northern source area. The unusually high frequency of the relative sea-level oscillations (20 kyr), the concentration of sediment supply during low stands and early transgressions, and the correspondence of sea-level change with climatic change could be used to infer their relationship to a nearby ice sheet. Geologists studying deposits formed during times of widespread continental glaciation should consider possible glacial influences on the stratigraphy of mid-latitude deposits, even in the absence of sediments directly deposited by ice. ?? 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Year 2005
Title Glacially-influenced late Pleistocene stratigraphy of a passive margin: New Jersey's Record of the North American ice sheet
DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2005.04.006
Authors J.S. Carey, R. E. Sheridan, G.M. Ashley, J. Uptegrove
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine Geology
Index ID 70029682
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse