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Diatom floras in Pungo River Formation sediments of the North Carolina continental margin indicate an age of late early to middle Miocene. Biostratigraphic age assignments of stratigraphic sections approximating third-order coastal onlap events (Frying Pan, Onslow Bay and Bogue Banks sections, from oldest to youngest) are based on zonal indicator species of Abbott’s (1978) Atlantic Miocene Diatom Zones (AMDZ). The Frying Pan Section is assigned to Zone I (Burdigalian), the Onslow Bay Section to Zones II and III (Langhian) and the Bogue Banks Section to Zone VI (Serravallian).

Diatom assemblages indicate shallow marine deposition. Influx of oceanic waters varied through time, probably as a response to changes in sea level and intensity of upwelling currents. Predominantly benthic assemblages in the Frying Pan Section give way to greater proportions of planktonic species in overlying sections. Shelf waters cooled and upwelling intensified during deposition of the Bogue Banks Section. Preservation of the diatom assemblages varied as a function of the permeability of enclosing sediments and the composition of associated sediment particles.

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