Abstract

We investigated, by means of optical dating, the chronostratigraphic nature of the sequence boundary associated with the last glacial in a sandy to gravelly compound paleovalley fill, just landward of the highstand shoreline in the Rhine-Meuse Delta (Netherlands). Laterally extensive fluvial strata deposited during oxygen isotope stage 4, coeval with a major sea-level fall, unconformably overlie estuarine deposits from stage 5 or fluvial deposits from the penultimate glacial (stage 6). These chronostratigraphic relationships differ substantially from widely used models and indicate (1) that sequence-boundary formation in this setting was associated with the onset of pronounced sea-level fall, shortly after 80 ka; (2) that the time gap represented by the sequence boundary may be extremely small (<10 k.y.); (3) that the age of the sequence boundary may decrease both updip and downdip of the highstand shoreline; and (4) that our study does not provide viable diagnostic criteria for a sea-level–controlled sequence boundary above the falling-stage systems tract. Despite the high-frequency, high-amplitude glacio-eustatic regime that might be considered ideal for the formation of an unambiguous unconformity, the last sequence boundary in this setting is commonly cryptic.

You do not currently have access to this article.