Abstract

Glauconite samples from various stratigraphic levels in the northern Atlantic Coastal Plain were dated by the K-Ar method. Twenty-eight samples were collected from glauconite-bearing sands in four traverses across the outcrop belt of Upper Cretaceous–lower Tertiary formations from northern New Jersey to eastern Maryland, thus providing a framework on which to test the reliability of glauconite for dating in vertical sequences and within some formations along strike.

Sample ages were determined paleontologically and radiogenically. The results show that most radiogenic determinations of glauconite followed a systematic pattern; the resultant ages were generally younger upward through the Stratigraphic section. In addition, consistent ages were obtained from many of the stratigraphic units along strike. A combination of paleontologically derived ages and the numerical radiogenic ages suggests that the stages of the Late Cretaceous are unequal rather than equal as some have proposed. For example, Campanian and Paleocene times are of significantly greater duration than the Maestrichtian.

Several samples obtained across the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary indicate that the age of the boundary is between 63.2 and 59.1 m.y., probably very near 61.1 m.y.

Dates considered to be reliable were obtained from 25 of 28 samples. Two of the three discordant ages are ascribed to incomplete glauconitization of the pre-existing mineral phase and hence to mineral impurity. No adequate explanation for the third significantly younger age has been determined.

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