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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

GCAGS Transactions


Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions
Vol. 19 (1969), Pages 601-609

A Review of Recent Studies on the Marine Pleistocene of the Atlantic Coastal Plain -- New Jersey to Georgia

Horace G. Richards


Recent work by many authors on the marine Pleistocene of the Atlantic Coastal Plain is reviewed. A rough count shows that more than 50 formation and physiographic names have been used. An attempt is made to correlate at least some of these. There is good physiographic and paleontologic evidence of a Sangamon high sea level at about 28 and possibly 42 feet. No higher Pleistocene shorelines have been conclusively demonstrated in Maryland, Delaware or New Jersey, the higher Pleistocene deposits probably being of alluvial origin. There is physiographic evidence of a 100-foot shoreline in Virginia (Windsor = Elberon Formation), and there is physiographic and paleontologic evidence of such a shoreline in South Carolina and Georgia. This shoreline has been referred to the Wicomico Formation and is tentatively regarded as Yarmouth in age. The terraces above the 100-foot contour are probably non-marine, and may be of Tertiary age.

The old idea that the Atlantic Coastal Plain has been very stable during Pleistocene time, and that the shorelines reflect eustatic changes in sea level, is questioned. Warping and Holocene submergence has been indicated for New Jersey, and the work of various geologists suggests that along the southeastern coast, the eustatic fluctuations of the sea may have been superimposed on a tectonically rising coast. There is evidence of a mid-Wisconsin high stand of the sea, but whether the presence of the Silver Bluff and Princess Anne shorelines above sea level has been caused by a mid-Wisconsin sea level higher than present, or whether tectonic movement has taken place, is not determined. There is no evidence of a Holocene stand of the sea higher than that of today.

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