Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean & Earth Sciences



Committee Director

C. F. Koch

Committee Member

L. E. Ewards

Committee Member

S. J. Culver

Committee Member

L. W. Ward

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.G4H64


The Old Church Formation contains the only presently known exposed Oligocene sediments in the North American mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain. Some ambiguity concerning the exact age of the Old Church Formation exists because it may include both Oligocene and Miocene sediments. Two outcrops and four cores containing the Old Church Formation were examined for dinoflagellates to determine the composition of the dinoflagellate flora in the Old Church Formation, the age of the Old Church Formation as indicated by this flora, general depositional environment of the Old Church Formation and correlative relationships of the Old Church Formation with other Coastal Plain units.

The dinoflagellate flora of the Old Church Formation consists of 40 species from 29 genera and one complex that contains species from at least two genera that were in place and six species from five genera that were reworked.

Examination of this flora indicates that two distinct assemblages of dinocysts, possibly representing two pulses of sea level rise, are contained within the Old Church Formation. These assemblages are distinguishable in locations where the amount of preserved material is greater than ten feet. The age of the Old Church Formation falls within the range of late Oligocene to early Miocene, but exact age placement is not possible.

The dinocyst flora recovered from the Old Church Formation indicates that the sediment was deposited in a subtropical, neritic setting.

Correlation of the Old Church Formation with other units in the Atlantic Coastal Plain is still somewhat uncertain due to the ambiguity in the age of the dinocyst assemblages observed. The Old Church Formation has been correlated with the Haywood Landing Member of the Belgrade Formation in North Carolina, part of the Edisto Formation and possibly part of the Ashley Formation in South Carolina.


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