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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 87, No. 9 (September 2003),

P. 1459-1483.

Copyright copy2003. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

Revised Upper Cretaceous and lower Paleogene lithostratigraphy and depositional history of the Jeanne d'Arc Basin, offshore Newfoundland, Canada

Mark E. Deptuck,1 R. Andrew MacRae,2 John W. Shimeld,3 Graham L. Williams,4 Robert A. Fensome5

1Department of Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3H 4J1; email: [email protected]; email: [email protected]
2Geology Department, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; email: [email protected]
3Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic), Natural Resources Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, P.O. Box 1006, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, B2Y 4A2; email: [email protected]
4Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic), Natural Resources Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, P.O. Box 1006, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, B2Y 4A2;
5Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic), Natural Resources Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, P.O. Box 1006, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, B2Y 4A2


Mark Deptuck holds a B.Sc. honors degree in geology from Saint Mary's University (1998) and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Dalhousie University, spending much of his time collaborating with researchers at the Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic). His primary research interests include the offshore Mesozoic and Cenozoic evolution of eastern Canada and the depositional processes and architecture of modern and ancient submarine fans.

Andrew MacRae has a B.Sc. degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and an M.Sc. degree and Ph.D. from the University of Calgary, Alberta. He worked at the Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic) for five years and currently teaches at Saint Mary's University in Halifax. His research interests include Cretaceous and Cenozoic palynology and sequence stratigraphy in the Arctic and the offshore of eastern Canada, tidally influenced sedimentary environments, chalk facies, and brackish-water dinoflagellates.

In collaborative research projects with industry and the academe over the past eight years, John Shimeld has interpreted a variety of 2-D and 3-D seismic data sets acquired offshore eastern Canada. His research interests include polygonal faulting, shallow- and deep-water depositional systems, and salt tectonics. He received a B.A.Sc. degree from the University of Waterloo in 1991 and an M.Sc. degree from Dalhousie University in 1994.

Graham Williams is a palynologist whose main focus is the Mesozoic–Cenozoic biostratigraphy of offshore eastern Canada. His fascination with dinoflagellates has led to studies of these microfossils in both hemispheres, including some of the deep ocean basins. After seven years with Pan American Petroleum (for anyone who remembers that far back), Graham joined the Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic) in 1971.

Rob Fensome is a research scientist at Natural Resources Canada (GSC Atlantic) specializing in palynostratigraphy of offshore eastern Canada. Educated at Nottingham University and the University of Saskatchewan, Rob's other main interests are dinoflagellate evolution, outreach, and the geological history of the Maritime Provinces of Canada, recently coediting a book on the last subject (with Graham Williams).


In addition to the authors, this paper represents the culmination of unpublished efforts by several workers associated with the Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic) and Dalhousie University between 1990 and 1999. We acknowledge A. Agrawal, K. Dickie, Z. Huang, B. Altheim, N. Eliuk, and S. Parker who contributed in various ways to our understanding of the Jeanne d'Arc Basin. We also thank D. Piper, M. Gibling, and G. Manson who reviewed an earlier version of the manuscript, A. Jackson for logistical assistance, and B. Prather and J. Waldron for helpful discussions. MED is funded through a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postgraduate Scholarship, a Natural Resources Canada Supplemental Scholarship, and a Fred A. Dix AAPG Grant-in-Aid. The Hibernia Management and Development and Petro-Canada are acknowledged for providing us with the 3-D seismic data over the Hibernia and Terra Nova oil fields, respectively. Although not used directly in this paper, additional 3-D seismic data provided by Chevron, Husky, Norsk Hydro, ExxonMobil, Petro-Canada, Mosbacher, and Murphy aided our study. CanStrat supplied us with the digital data necessary to generate our stratigraphic columns. Rick Hiscott, John Hogg, and Iain Sinclair are thanked for their insightful reviews that improved the manuscript. Geological Survey of Canada Contribution No. 2001191.


The Jeanne d'Arc Basin is a relatively small passive-margin rift basin that underlies what is now the northeastern corner of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. In the Late Cretaceous and early Paleogene, the basin formed an elongated depression where sediment accumulated in and along the margins of a shallow-shelf sea. Seismic and well data were used to examine the Late Cretaceous and Paleogene evolution of the basin and to formally revise the existing stratigraphic classification scheme. In the Late Cretaceous, the western margin of the basin was characterized by a well-developed shelf and slope system comprised of the sand-prone Otter Bay and Fox Harbour members and the distally equivalent shale-prone Red Island and Bay Bulls members, respectively. These members record two main progradational episodes that are separated by a regional unconformity and a thick shale interval corresponding to the Bay Bulls Member. East of the shelf-slope system, Upper Cretaceous shale and sparse sandstone of the Dawson Canyon Formation and chalk of the Petrel Member and Wyandot Formation were deposited in a relatively condensed section. In the early part of the Paleogene, two main sandstone units, herein named the Avondale and South Mara members, were deposited east of the well-developed latest Cretaceous slope in the lower part of the Banquereau Formation. The Avondale Member corresponds to small sand-prone submarine fans deposited on the basin floor in the early Paleocene. The submarine fans were fed primarily by two canyons that incised the western margin of the basin, eroding the Late Cretaceous shelf and slope. Also in the Paleocene, siliceous shale and siltstone of the Tilton Member were deposited above bathymetric highs along the western and southern basin margins. The exact temporal relationship between the Tilton and Avondale members is poorly understood. The South Mara Member was deposited in the latest Paleocene and early Eocene. In the southern parts of the basin, it forms a regressive sandstone unit above the Tilton Member, deposited during a period of renewed shelf-slope progradation. In the central and northern parts of the basin, the South Mara Member corresponds to small, sand-prone submarine fans, similar to those deposited in the early Paleocene.

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