The composition, thickness, and geophysical log signature of the Bethany Formation vary with location and depth. In general, the Bethany Formation is a sequence of clayey and silty beds with discontinuous lenses of sand (Andres, 1986; Ramsey, 2003). The most common lithologies are silty, clayey fine sand; sandy, silty clay; clayey, sandy silt; fine to medium sand; sandy, clayey silt, and medium to coarse sand with granule and pebble layers. Thin gravel layers occur most frequently in updip areas and are rarer in downdip areas. Sands are typically quartzose. Lignite, plant remains, and mica are common, grains of glauconite are rare. In the Lewes area, Ramsey (2003) describes the Bethany Formation as consisting of gray, olive gray, bluish-gray clay to clayey silt interbedded with fine to very coarse sand. Lignitic and gravelly beds are common.
The geologic history of the surficial geologic units of the Georgetown Quadrangle is primarily that of deposition of the Beaverdam Formation and its subsequent modification by erosion and deposition of younger stratigraphic units. The age of the Beaverdam Formation is uncertain due to the lack of age-definitive fossils within the unit. Stratigraphic relationships in Delaware indicate that it is no older than late Miocene and no younger than early Pleistocene.
The following table displays the correlation of hydrologic units to geologic units recognized by the Delaware Geological Survey in the Atlantic Coastal Plain.
The Pollack Farm Site, in the Cheswold sands of the lower Miocene Calvert Formation, produced a fragmentary marine mammal fauna. The Pollack location yielded at least six cetaceans (whales, porpoises), a sirenian(manatee), along with one of the earliest records of a true seal (Listed below).
Land mammal fossils were discovered in 1992 in the lower part of the Calvert formation at the Pollack Farm site. During the short time the pit was open, the collection grew to become the most diverse tertiary land mammal fauna known north of Florida on the eastern half of North America.
The lower Miocene Pollack Farm Fossil Site has yielded few avian fossils in comparison to the other classes of vertebrates and invertebrates. Only eleven fossil fragments, assignable to six taxa, were collected at the Pollack site. Of the eleven avian fossils collected, representations from three distinctive orders were recovered: Gaviiformes (divers and loons, seen below), Charadriiformes (gulls and shore birds), Pelecaniformes (cormorants and pelicans).
The Pollack Farm Site has provided the first legitimate window of Miocene reptilian life in North America east of the great plains and north of Florida. In years prior to the excavation of the Pollack site, records of particular small lizards and snakes were non-existent in locations of the mid-Atlantic and northeast, thus providing a significant value to the Miocene fossils recovered.
The Bethany Beach borehole (Qj32-27) provides a nearly continuous record of the Oligocene to Pleistocene formations of eastern Sussex County, Delaware. This 1470-ft-deep, continuously cored hole penetrated Oligocene, Miocene, and Pleistocene stratigraphic units that contain important water-bearing intervals. The resulting detailed data on lithology, ages, and environments make this site an important reference section for the subsurface geology of the region.
The microflora of the Bethany formation and the lower part of the Beaverdam Formation is characterized by a Quercus-Carya assemblage, very few non-arboreal pollen, and Pterocarya and Sciadopitys as exotic constituents. This assemblage has much in common with that of the Brandywine Formation of Maryland and the Eastover Formation of Virginia which are of late Miocene or early Pliocene age. The environment of deposition of the Bethany was probably deltaic, and that of the lower Beaverdam fluviatile.