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On the basis of lithologic, foraminiferal, seismostratigraphic and downhole logging characteristics, we identified seven distinctive erosional unconformities at the contacts of the principal depositional sequences at Site 612 on the New Jersey Continental Slope (water depth 1404 m). These unconformities are present at the Campanian-Maestrichtian, lower Eocene-middle Eocene, middle Eocene-upper Eocene, upper Eocene-lower Oligocene, lower Oligocene-upper Miocene, Tortonian-Messinian, and upper Pliocene-upper Pleistocene contacts. The presence of coarse sand or redeposited intraclasts above six of the unconformities suggests downslope transport from the adjacent shelf by means of sediment gravity flows, which contributed in part to the erosion. Changes in the benthic foraminiferal assemblages across all but the Campanian-Maestrichtian contact indicate that significant changes in the seafloor environment, such as temperature and dissolved oxygen content, took place during the hiatuses.

Each identified unconformity can be traced widely on seismic reflection profiles and most have been identified from wells and outcrops on the coastal plain and other offshore basins of the U.S. Atlantic margin. Furthermore, their stratigraphic positions and equivalence to similar unconformities on the Goban Spur, in West Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and the Western Interior of the U.S., suggest that most contacts are correlative with the global unconformities and sea-level falls of the Vail depositional model.

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