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Terrestrial and Marine Palynomorphs as Sea-Level Proxies: An Example from Quaternary Sediments on the New Jersey Margin, U.S.A.

By
Francine M.G. McCarthy
Francine M.G. McCarthy
Department of Earth Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1, Canada e-mail: francine@craton.geol.brocku.ca
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Kevin E. Gostlin
Kevin E. Gostlin
Department of Earth Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1, Canada
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Peta J. Mudie
Peta J. Mudie
Geological Survey of Canada‚ÄďAtlantic, Box 1006, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, B2Y 4A2, Canada
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Jennifer A. Hopkins
Jennifer A. Hopkins
Department of Earth Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1, Canada
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Published:
January 01, 2003

Abstract

Palynomorphs are acid-resistant organic particles which behave aerodynamically and hydrodynamically like silt, and which resist degradation except in oxidizing or highly alkaline conditions. They are present in virtually all marine sediments, from the tropics to the poles and from estuarine to abyssal environments. Reconstructions of Quaternary sea level in cores from the New Jersey shelf (ODP Hole 1072A) and slope (ODP Hole 1073A) based on the modern distribution of palynomorphs across the New Jersey margin as well as the taphonomic alteration of palynological samples agree fairly well with data from other available proxies (e.g., oxygen isotopes). The palynological signatures of sediments on continental margins also provide information about the generation of sequences and sequence boundaries. The palynological character of surfaces identified as sequence boundaries from seismic reflection profiles records the generation of erosional unconformities during extreme lowstand events that altered the geometry of the margin. Very low palynomorph concentrations and presumably oxidized palynological assemblages (containing few protoperidinioid dinocysts or thin-walled pollen grains) characterize erosional unconformities. The strong seismic reflection associated with sequence boundaries results from physical contrast between the transgressive/highstand sediments (with very high palynomorph concentrations, P:D values declining rapidly upcore, and Pinus-dominated pollen assemblages) and underlying the lowstand sediments (with low palynomorph concentrations, high P:D values, taphonomically altered and ecologically mixed palynological assemblages). The palynological content of Quaternary sediments at ODP Sites 1072 and 1073 thus supports the role of eustasy as an important factor in shaping the New Jersey margin.

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SEPM Special Publication

Micropaleontologic Proxies for Sea-Level Change and Stratigraphic Discontinuities

Hilary Clement Olson
Hilary Clement Olson
Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas, 4412 Spicewood Springs Rd., Bldg. 600, Austin, Texas 78759-8500, U.S.A.
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R. Mark Leckie
R. Mark Leckie
Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, 611 N. Pleasant St., Amherst Massachusetts 01003, U.S.A.
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SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
Volume
75
ISBN electronic:
9781565762121
Publication date:
January 01, 2003

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