The Newark Supergroup currently includes nine stratigraphic groups, each of which applies to part or all of the rock column of only one or a few basins. Because the group nomenclature within the Newark Supergroup is neither inclusive nor parallel in its concepts, nearly half of the strata within the Newark Supergroup lacks any group placement. A new system is proposed herein that (1) establishes unambiguous group boundaries, (2) places all Newark Supergroup strata into groups, (3) reduces the number of group names from nine to three, (4) creates parallelism between groups and three major successive tectonic events that created the rift basins containing the Newark Supergroup, and (5) coincidentally provides isochronous or nearly isochronous group boundaries. These proposed groups are (1) the Chatham Group (Middle Triassic to basal Lower Jurassic sedimentary rocks), (2) the Meriden Group (Lower Jurassic extrusive volcanic and sedimentary rocks), and (3) the Agawam Group (new name) (Lower Jurassic sedimentary rocks above all early Mesozoic igneous intrusive and extrusive rocks).
This new rock classification system makes use of the fact that a discrete interval of synchronous or nearly synchronous volcanism and plutonism occurred throughout the early Mesozoic rift system of eastern North America. The presence or absence of volcanic rocks provides a powerful stratigraphic tool for establishing regional groups and group boundaries. The presence of sedimentary rocks injected by diabase dikes and sills, in the absence of extrusive volcanic rocks, places Newark Supergroup rocks in the Chatham Group. The presence of extrusive volcanic rocks, interbedded with sedimentary rocks injected by diabase dikes and sills, places Newark Supergroup rocks in the Meriden Group. The presence of sedimentary rocks lacking both extrusive volcanic rocks and diabase dikes and sills, places Newark Supergroup rocks in the Agawam Group. Application of this new regional group stratigraphy to the early Mesozoic rift basins requires revision of the stratigraphy of several basins to make formation boundaries match group boundaries.