Quantification of the effects of eustasy, subsidence, and sediment supply on Miocene sequences, mid-Atlantic margin of the United States

James V. Browning, Kenneth G. Miller, Peter P. McLaughlin, Michelle A. Kominz, Peter J. Sugarman, Donald Monteverde, Mark D. Feigenson, John C. Hernández

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We use backstripping to quantify the roles of variations in global sea level (eustasy), subsidence, and sediment supply on the development of the Miocene stratigraphic record of the mid-Atlantic continental margin of the United States (New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland). Eustasy is a primary influence on sequence patterns, determining the global template of sequences (i.e., times when sequences can be preserved) and explaining similarities in Miocene sequence architecture on margins throughout the world. Sequences can be correlated throughout the mid-Atlantic region with Sr-isotopic chronology (±0.6 m.y. to ±1.2 m.y.). Eight Miocene sequences correlate regionally and can be correlated to global δ18O increases, indicating glacioeustatic control. This margin is dominated by passive subsidence with little evidence for active tectonic overprints, except possibly in Maryland during the early Miocene. However, early Miocene sequences in New Jersey and Delaware display a patchwork distribution that is attributable to minor (tens of meters) intervals of excess subsidence. Backstripping quantifies that excess subsidence began in Delaware at ca. 21 Ma and continued until 12 Ma, with maximum rates from ca. 21-16 Ma. We attribute this enhanced subsidence to local flexural response to the progradation of thick sequences offshore and adjacent to this area. Removing this excess subsidence in Delaware yields a record that is remarkably similar to New Jersey eustatic estimates. We conclude that sea-level rise and fall is a first-order control on accommodation providing similar timing on all margins to the sequence record. Tectonic changes due to movement of the crust can overprint the record, resulting in large gaps in the stratigraphic record. Smaller differences in sequences can be attributed to local flexural loading effects, particularly in regions experiencing large-scale progradation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-588
Number of pages22
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - May 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


  • Delaware
  • Eustasy
  • Miocene
  • New Jersey
  • Sequence stratigraphy

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