The Long-Term Stratigraphic Record on Continental Margins

  1. Charles A. Nittrouer,
  2. James A. Austin,
  3. Michael E. Field,
  4. Joseph H. Kravitz,
  5. James P. M. Syvitski and
  6. Patricia L. Wiberg
  1. Gregory S. Mountain1,
  2. Robert L. Burger2,
  3. Heike Delius3,
  4. Craig S. Fulthorpe4,
  5. Jamie A. Austin4,
  6. David S. Goldberg5,
  7. Michael S. Steckler5,
  8. Cecilia M. McHugh6,
  9. Kenneth G. Miller1,
  10. Donald H. Monteverde1,
  11. Daniel L. Orange7 and
  12. Lincoln F. Pratson8

Published Online: 25 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304398.ch8

Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy

Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy

How to Cite

Mountain, G. S., Burger, R. L., Delius, H., Fulthorpe, C. S., Austin, J. A., Goldberg, D. S., Steckler, M. S., McHugh, C. M., Miller, K. G., Monteverde, D. H., Orange, D. L. and Pratson, L. F. (2007) The Long-Term Stratigraphic Record on Continental Margins, in Continental Margin Sedimentation: From Sediment Transport to Sequence Stratigraphy (eds C. A. Nittrouer, J. A. Austin, M. E. Field, J. H. Kravitz, J. P. M. Syvitski and P. L. Wiberg), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304398.ch8

Author Information

  1. 1

    Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA

  2. 2

    Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA

  3. 3

    Task Geoscience, Ltd, Aberdeen AB23 8GX, UK

  4. 4

    University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, Austin TX 78759-8500, USA

  5. 5

    Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY 10964, USA

  6. 6

    Queens College, Flushing, NY 11367, USA

  7. 7

    AOA Geophysics, Inc., Moss Landing, CA 95039, USA

  8. 8

    Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 17 JUL 2007

Book Series:

  1. Special Publication Number 37 of the International Association of Sedimentologists

Book Series Editors:

  1. Ian Jarvis

Series Editor Information

  1. School of Earth Sciences & Geography, Centre for Earth & Environmental Science Research, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2EE, UK

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405169349

Online ISBN: 9781444304398



  • long-term stratigraphic record on continental margins;
  • distinguishing time-scales – long- and short-term sedimentary records;
  • long-term record documenting complex Earth system behaviour;
  • long-term geochronology - dating continental margin records;
  • basin-wide surfaces and long-term processes;
  • maximum flooding surface or MFS and genetic stratigraphy;
  • compaction errors arising from uncertainties - in lithology and compaction coefficients of those lithologies;
  • Eel River Basin (ERB) of northern coastal California - influenced by three tectonic plates;
  • The New Jersey margin - eustatic imprint with complications


Processes that build continental-margin stratigraphy on time-scales of > 20 kyr have been investigated. Eustatic sea-level exerts a major influence on sedimentation, but the Eel River margin shows that its effects can be interwoven with those of tectonism. Rapid Oligocene subsidence along the Cascadia subduction zone resulted in a foundered forearc basin. Regression and sedimentary reconstruction began in the Pliocene, and up to 1 km of sediment has accumulated since then, with rotating faults, synclines, anticlines and regional uplifts marking plate interactions. Fourteen seismic unconformities along structural highs can be traced into synclines. Many are ravinements formed during rising sea level, and ∼70-100 kyr cyclicity suggests a glacio-eustatic signal. Incised channels formed during regressions over the past ∼360 kyr, when rivers drained into Eel Canyon. In contrast, the New Jersey margin has long been dormant tectonically, providing clearer access to a eustatic imprint. Lack of Paleogene sediment supply resulted in a carbonate ramp prior to development of Oligocene deltas. With little accommodation space to allow aggradation, clinoforms prograded ∼100 km seaward, reaching the shelf break by Late Pleistocene. Coastal-plain drilling recovered ∼15 Oligocene and Miocene highstand deposits, which correlate with glacio-eustatic oscillations. Beneath the mid-to-outer shelf, incised valleys have been preserved, and clinoform strata suggest reworking of lobate deposits. Four Late Pleistocene sequences reveal no hiatuses at sequence boundaries, and no correlations between glacio-eustatic oscillations and stratal architecture. Stratal discontinuities are a common feature in margin sediments and provide objective means of interpreting the geological record. Continuous coring is essential to understand the processes that create stratal architecture.