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Abstract

The U.S. Atlantic continental margin, which stretches 1,850 km from Georges Bank in the north to the Blake Plateau in the south, encompasses an area of 655,000 km2. The margin comprises several sedimentary basins of different shapes with platforms in between (see Schlee and Klitgord, this volume). The basins appear to have begun their subsidence at about the same time and to have undergone similar rift and postrift phases of development that resulted in a similar sedimentary section (Schlee and Jansa, 1981). Our objectives in this paper are (1) to portray, at selected intervals, the paleogeography of the margin during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic, (2) to discuss the temporal development of the paleoshelf edge, and (3) to outline the major elements of the several different sedimentary regimes that have prevailed (rift, postrift, carbonate-clastic, and authigenic sediment accumulations).

The main sources of data are interpretations of multichannel seismic-reflection profiles (Dillon 1982; Dillon and others, 1983a; Grow and others, 1979; Schlee, 1981; Schlee and Fritsch, 1982; Schlee and others, 1985), released drill hole data (Scholle, 1977,1979, 1980; Scholle and Wenkam, 1982; Poag, 1982a, b; Libby-French, 1981, 1984), and Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) data (Hollister and Ewing, 1972; Tucholke and Vogt, 1979; Benson and Sheridan, 1978; Sheridan, and Gradstein, 1983; Van Hinte and Wise, 1987; Poag and Watts, 1987). With few exceptions (Schlee, 1981; Schlee and Fritsch, 1982), published interpretations of offshore basins have been based on a detailed analysis of one or at best a few key profiles (Grow and others, 1979, 1983; Poag, 1982a, b, 1985). Our approach in this chapter is to present interpretations in the form of eight time-slice maps with a brief discussion about data sources, paleogeography, and ties to adjacent areas.

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