Stratigraphy and Age of a Prominent Paleosol in a Late Pleistocene Sedimentary Sequence, Mason Neck, Virginia

Open-File Report 2021-1113
By: , and 



The High Point paleosol is 2.28-meters-thick aggradational soil developed in fining upward estuarine-alluvial sand and loess. The paleosol is exposed in a few shoreline cliff faces of Mason Neck, Virginia. Although a former A horizon is missing, the E, Bw, Bt, and C horizon sequence seen in the sediments indicates subaerial pedogenesis. Pedogenesis began with initial estuarine-alluvial floodplain emergence as sea level was lowering in late marine isotope stage 5 (MIS5) and MIS4, continued during eolian silt deposition accompanied by incorporation of the silt into the estuarine-alluvial sand, and ended with a period of loess and eolian sand deposition, erosion, and development of periglacial(?) features. Six optically stimulated luminescence ages provide an age range from 86 to 56 ka (thousand years ago) for sedimentary units below and above the paleosol. These ages indicate a 10,000- to 30,000-year interval in late MIS5 and MIS4 for these events to have occurred.

Suggested Citation

Markewich, H.W., Wysocki, D.A., Pavich, M.J., Smoot, J.P., and Litwin, R.J., 2021, Stratigraphy and age of a prominent paleosol in a late Pleistocene sedimentary sequence, Mason Neck, Virginia: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1113, 24 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Stratigraphy and Age of Units in Mason Neck Cliff Face Exposures
  • Pedostratigraphy and Age of the High Point Paleosol
  • Summary of Pedostratigraphic and Age Data
  • General Observation Based on Data Presented in this Report
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Stratigraphy and age of a prominent paleosol in a late Pleistocene sedimentary sequence, Mason Neck, Virginia
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2021-1113
DOI 10.3133/ofr20211113
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center, Florence Bascom Geoscience Center
Description vii, 24 p.
Country United States
State Virginia
Other Geospatial Mason Neck
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details