Sequence-stratigraphic significance of Miocene to Pliocene glauconite-rich layers, on- and offshore of the US Mid-Atlantic margin

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Glauconite is generally agreed to be a reliable indicator of low sedimentation rate, but little systematic work has been done to specify the role of glauconite in a sequence-stratigraphic framework. Ocean Drilling Program Leg 174A recovered a good record of late Tertiary sediments along the shelf edge of the New Jersey US Atlantic margin, and glauconite was present in many intervals of the cores, sometimes in vertical proximity to sequence boundaries. Leg 174A glauconite was analyzed with binocular microscope, XRD and SEM to determine the percent of potassium and degree of maturity in order to relate occurrence to depositional environment. Seismic data were used to locate sequence boundaries, and percent glauconite was visually estimated. Glauconite samples from Site 1073 were found to have formed within a lowstand systems tract (LST), and as part of a distal condensed section (CS) within a transgressive systems tract (TST). These results are comparable to those from nearby Site 903 of Leg 150, which indicate a similar depositional setting for glauconite. Glauconites at shelf Sites 1071 and 1072 likely formed in the TST as well. Onshore, glauconite occurs mainly in transgressive systems tracts. The Miocene appears to be the upper limit of glauconite formation onshore. As the magnitude of sea-level change decreased, present onshore locations became too nearshore to maintain sediment-free environments, and the zone of glauconite deposition moved seaward. The same process did not occur offshore until the Plio–Pleistocene. Low subsidence-rate margins such as the US Atlantic are subject more to the variations of sea-level than to changes in sediment supply, tectonics, or other factors influencing their depositional patterns. Although glauconite occurrence is widespread in the stratigraphic record, this study demonstrates that for low subsidence-rate margins, primary deposition of glauconite is largely restricted to the TST.


This article was originally published in Sedimentary Geology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Sedimentary Geology


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