ABSTRACT: A new sequence stratigraphic framework for Turonian to Santonian (94-84 Ma) sediments is established using data from the USGS Kure Beach and Elizabethtown cores collected from the Atlantic Coastal Plain of North Carolina (NC). These sediments represent some of the oldest marine units deposited on the southeastern Atlantic Coastal Plain and record the early development of a clastic wedge atop crystalline basement. Sediments were deposited as transitional marginal-marine to marine units in a complex interplay of fluvial, estuarine, and shelf environments. Repetitive lithologies and minimal biostratigraphic control requires an integrated analysis of grain-size data, geophysical logs, biostratigraphy, and 87Sr/86Sr isotopic data to identify systems tracts and establish a sequence stratigraphic framework. From this integrated approach, three Turonian to Santonian sequences in the Elizabethtown core and six in the Kure Beach core are identified. The new sequences from oldest to youngest are Clubhouse II, Fort Fisher I, Fort Fisher II, Collins Creek I, Collins Creek II, Pleasant Creek I, and Pleasant Creek II. Sequences from North Carolina document significant shifts of global and regional sea-level during greenhouse conditions in the early Late Cretaceous. Maximum sea-level rise occurred globally during the early Turonian and is documented from the marine sediments of the Clubhouse II sequence. This sequence is unconformably overlain by terrestrial sediments deposited during a major fall in sea level and maximum progradation of the shoreline, as evidenced by the Fort Fisher I sequence. Global sea-level rise in the Coniacian resulted in the deposition of the Fort Fisher II sequence, which is present only in the Kure Beach core. Local marine circulation and erosion on the shelf is suggested by the absence of the Collins Creek I sequence at Kure Beach; this sequence is present only in the up-dip Elizabethtown core. Activation of a possible buried fault structure along the Cape Fear arch resulted in the formation of a regional depocenter during the late Coniacian to early Santonian and is reflected in the unusual thickness of the Collins Creek II and Pleasant Creek I sequences. The return to a more global sea-level influence occurred in the late Santonian with the deposition of the Pleasant Creek II sequence. A comparison of temporal distribution of sequences in the Elizabethtown and Kure Beach cores to corresponding sequences in New Jersey indicates significant differences in erosional and tectonic processes in the Cape Fear region during the Turonian and Santonian.
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