Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Latest Paleocene lithologic and biotic events in neritic deposits of southwestern New Jersey

August 1, 1993

In the southwestern New Jersey Coastal Plain, four drill holes contain continuous neritic sedimentation across the Paleocene/Eocene boundary (calcareous nannofossil Zone NP 9/NP 10 boundary). Significant lithologic and biotic changes occur in these strata near the top of the Paleocene. Global warming, increased precipitation, and other oceanographic and climatic events that have been recognized in high-latitude, deep-oceanic deposits of the latest Paleocene also influenced mid-latitude, shallow-marine, and terrestrial environments of the western North Atlantic. The diverse, well-preserved calcareous nannofossil flora that is present throughout the entire New Jersey boundary section accurately places these events within the uppermost part of the upper Paleocene Zone NP 9. Several rapid but gradational changes occur within a 1.1-m interval near the top of Zone NP 9. The changes include (1) a change in lithology from glauconitic quartz sand to clay, (2) a change in clay mineral suites from illite/smectite-dominated to kaolinite-dominated, (3) a change in benthic foraminiferal assemblages to a lower diversity fauna suggestive of low-oxygen environments, (4) a significant increase in planktonic foraminiferal abundance, and (5) an increased species turnover rate in marine calcareous nannofossils. Pollen was sparse in the New Jersey drill holes, but terrestrial sporomorph species in Virginia exhibit increased turnover rates at a correlative level. Foraminiferal assemblages and lithology indicate that relative sea level rose in New Jersey at the same time as these late Paleocene events occurred in late Biochron NP 9. The higher sea levels influenced sediment type and absolute abundance of planktonic foraminifers in the deposits. Above the initial increase of kaolinite in the upper part of Zone NP 9, the kaolinite percentage continues to increase, and the maximum kaolinite value occurs in the uppermost part of Zone NP 9. There are few changes in either the sediments or the biota precisely at the Zone NP 9/NP 10 boundary in New Jersey. The clay-rich deposits with a high kaolinite clay mineral suite, the lowered diversity benthic foraminiferal assemblages, the abundant planktonic foraminiferal specimens, and the calcareous nannofossil assemblages continued essentially unchanged into the earliest Eocene Zone NP 10. Within the lower part of Zone NP 10, the kaolinite percentage decreased to very low values.

Publication Year 1993
Title Latest Paleocene lithologic and biotic events in neritic deposits of southwestern New Jersey
DOI 10.1029/93PA01367
Authors Thomas G. Gibson, Laurel M. Bybell, James P. Owens
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Paleoceanography
Index ID 70186619
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse