The surface and shallow subsurface sediments of the lower Delmarva Peninsula include beds ranging in age from Miocene to Holocene. The oldest beds appear to be typical shelf deposits of the Chesapeake Group (Calvert-Choptank age). These marine units are overlain by deltaic deposits, which range from fluviatile facies in the north (Pensauken Formation) to marginal marine and marine beds in the south ('Yorktown(?) and Cohansey(?)' Formations as used by Rasmussen and Slaughter in 1955). This large deltaic mass underlies most of the Delmarva Peninsula. Fossil age determinations supplemented by some radiometric dates indicate the delta to be largely late Miocene in age. The nonmarine facies of the delta, the Pensauken Formation, previously was considered to be Pleistocene in age.
The late Miocene delta and possibly the Yorktown Formation (lower to middle Pliocene) are overlain by a feldspathic sand, the Beaverdam, which is at least in part marginal marine. Microflora recovered from this formation include species no longer indigenous to the Delmarva region ('exotics'). On the basis of existing information, microfloral assemblages containing 'exotics' are pre-Pleistocene in age. The Beaverdam therefore is pre-Pleistocene in age, probably late Pliocene. A highly dissected and weathered unit, the Walston Silt, caps the uplands of the central Delmarva Peninsula, where it overlies the Beaverdam. The Walston has a microflora containing 'exotics' and therefore is considered to be the youngest Tertiary unit (uppermost Pliocene) in this area.
Sediments forming a barrier-back-barrier sequence fringe most of the southern Maryland-Delaware part of the Delmarva Peninsula and are found at altitudes of as much as 15 m (50 ft) above sea level. This sequence, the Omar Formation, is Sangamon in age and has been dated radiometrically as 60,000 to about 100,000 years old. The microflora in these beds contains no 'exotics,' and the assemblage suggests a warm-temperate environment. The Omar represents the highest stand of the Quaternary seas in the Delmarva region.
The Ironshire and Kent Island Formations overlie or cut into the Omar Formation and are probably late Sangamon and middle Wisconsin, respectively, in age. Near Ocean City, the Ironshire forms a seaward-facing scarp with a toe nearly 4.5 m (15 ft) above sea level. A warm-temperate microfloral assemblage from the fluviatile-estuarine facies of the Ironshire Formation in the Delaware Bay region suggests that the formation is interglacial, probably late Sangamon in age.
The Ironshire and Omar Formations are overlain unconformably by the Sinepuxent Formation. The top of this marine unit is slightly above present sea level and has been dated by radiocarbon as about 30,000 years old or middle Wisconsin. The microflora from this formation is a cold to cool-temperate assemblage (high proportion of spruce pollen). The outer fringes of the Delmarva Peninsula are being overlapped by deposits of a Holocene marine transgression.
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USGS Numbered Series
Upper Cenozoic deposits of the central Delmarva Peninsula, Maryland and Delaware