Abstract

The 11-m-thick lectostratotype of the Castle Hayne Limestone in New Hanover County, North Carolina, consists of lower phosphate pebble biomicrudite; middle bryozoan biosparrudite; and upper bryozoan-sponge biomicrudite. The relative age of the Castle Hayne Limestone is equivocal. The planktic foraminiferal fauna and part of the molluscan fauna suggest that the entire formation should be correlated with the Gulf Coast Claibornian Stage (middle Eocene), whereas calcareous nannofossils, bryozoans, barnacles, and some molluscs indicate that the upper bryozoan-sponge biomicrudite is a Gulf Coast Jacksonian Stage (upper Eocene) equivalent. Because of problems correlating the Castle Hayne Limestone to equivalent Gulf Coast stages, the lectostratotype was dated by application of the Rb-Sr glauconite isochron.

Five hand-picked glauconite concentrates analyzed for Rb, Sr, and Sr-isotopic composition yielded an isochron age of 34.8 ± 1 m.y. (λ Rb 87 = 1.42 × 10−11 yr−1) with an initial (Sr87/Sr86)0 ratio of 0.7083 ± 0.0004. The determined initial (Sr87/Sr86)0 ratio is in good agreement with previous estimates of the Sr-isotopic composition of sea water during the Eocene. Although the age is younger than the value of 37 m.y. earlier proposed for the Eocene/Oligocene boundary, it agrees with fission-track and K-Ar ages of tektites and microtektites, and K-Ar ages of bentonites and glauconites in upper Eocene marine and nonmarine units throughout the world.

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