The c. 700 m thick succession of continental–brackish-marine deposits forming the Lourinhã Formation, cropping out along the coast of western Portugal between Baleal and Santa Cruz, has been correlated using laterally persistent shelly marker beds. Three shelly units record the episodic establishment of relatively short-lived, brackish-marine embayments, transgressing from the southwest, onto a low-lying coastal plain. The succession displays systematic changes in facies types and stacking patterns reflecting differences in fluvial style, bedload character and palaeontological content. Based on these observations, four new members for the Lourinhã Formation are proposed: the Sáo Bernardino, Porto de Barças, Areia Branca and Ferrel members. New biostratigraphical data indicate that the Lourinhã Formation is Late Kimmeridgian to earliest Early Tithonian in age. This age has also been obtained from the underlying mixed carbonate and clastic deposits of the Abadia Formation at Consolação. As a result, these latter sediments are now re-assigned to the Alcobaça Formation, a lithostratigraphical term currently in use in other areas of the Lusitanian Basin. Improved regional mapping of the Lourinhã Formation has established a new sub-basin within the western parts of the Lusitanian Basin. This sub-basin, now named the Consolação Sub-basin, is bounded to the east by the Lourinhã–Caldas de Rainha (L–C) fault zone and to the west by the Berlengas Horst. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.