Seismic and core data, combined with amino acid racemization and strontium-isotope age data, enable the definition of the Quaternary stratigraphic framework and recognition of geologic controls on the development of the modern coastal system of North Carolina, U.S.A. Seven regionally continuous high amplitude reflections are defined which bound six seismic stratigraphic units consisting of multiple regionally discontinuous depositional sequences and parasequence sets, and enable an understanding of the evolution of this margin. Data reveal the progressive eastward progradation and aggradation of the Quaternary shelf. The early Pleistocene inner shelf occurs at a depth of ca. 20-40 m beneath the western part of the modern estuarine system (Pamlico Sound). A mid- to outer shelf lowstand terrace (also early Pleistocene) with shelf sand ridge deposits comprising parasequence sets within a transgressive systems tract, occurs at a deeper level (ca. 45-70 m) beneath the modern barrier island system (the Outer Banks) and northern Pamlico Sound. Seismic and foraminiferal paleoenvironmental data from cores indicate the occurrence of lowstand strandplain shoreline deposits on the early to middle Pleistocene shelf. Middle to late Pleistocene deposits occur above a prominent unconformity and marine flooding surface that truncates underlying units, and contain numerous filled fluvial valleys that are incised into the early and middle Pleistocene deposits. The stratigraphic framework suggests margin progradation and aggradation modified by an increase in the magnitude of sea-level fluctuations during the middle to late Pleistocene, expressed as falling stage, lowstand, transgressive and highstand systems tracts. Thick stratigraphic sequences occur within the middle Pleistocene section, suggesting the occurrence of high capacity fluvial point sources debouching into the area from the west and north. Furthermore, the antecedent topography plays a significant role in the evolution of the geomorphology and stratigraphy of this marginal system. ?? 2009 Elsevier B.V.
Additional publication details
Regional seismic stratigraphy and controls on the Quaternary evolution of the Cape Hatteras region of the Atlantic passive margin, USA