Bethany Formation

Geologic Time Period
late Miocene to Pliocene

Coastal Plain - Primarily Subsurface Unit

The following description was published in RI67 The Cat Hill Formation and Bethany Formation of Delaware, Andres, A.S., 2004:

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.

Variations in thickness reflect spatial changes in depositional environments during filling of the sedimentary basin and post-depositional erosional truncation (Andres, 1986). The age of the Bethany Formation is reported to range from late middle Miocene (Owens and Denny, 1979; Hansen, 1981; Benson, 1990) to perhaps Pliocene (Miller et al., 2003), although the age estimates are poorly constrained because of a general lack of diagnostic fossils or other materials that can be age-dated.


Andres, A.S., 1986, <a href="/publications/ri42-stratigraphy-and-depositional-history-post-choptank-chesapeake-group">Stratigraphy and depositional history of the post-Choptank Chesapeake Group: Delaware Geological Survey Report of Investigations No. 42</a>, 39 p.

Benson, R. N., ed., 1990, with contributions by A. S. Andres, R. N. Benson, K. W. Ramsey, and J. H. Talley, <a href="/publications/ri48-geologic-and-hydrologic-studies-oligocene-pleistocene-section-near-lewes-delaware">Geologic and hydrologic studies of Oligocene-Pleistocene section near Lewes, Delaware: Delaware Geological Survey Report of Investigations No. 48</a>, 34 p.

Hansen, H. J., 1981, Stratigraphic discussion in support of a major unconformity separating the Columbia Group from the underlying upper Miocene aquifer complex in eastern Maryland: Southeastern Geology, v. 22, p. 123-138.

Miller, K. G., McLaughlin, P. P., Jr., Browning, J. V., Benson, R. N., Sugarman, P. J., Ramsey, K. W., Hernandez, J., Baxter, S. J., Feigenson, M. D., Monteverde, D. H., Cramer, B. S., Uptegrove, J., Katz, M. E., McKenna, T. E., Strohmeier, S. A., Pekar, S. F., Cobbs, G., Cobbs, G., III, Aubry, M.-P., and Curtin, S., 2003, Bethany Beach site report, in Miller, K.G., Sugarman, P. J., Browning, J.V., et al., Proc. ODP, Init. Repts., 174AX (Suppl.), 1-84 [Online]. Available at:….

Owens, J. P. and Denny, C. S., 1979, Upper Cenozoic deposits of the central Delmarva Peninsula, Maryland and Delaware: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1067-A, 28 p.

Ramsey, K. W., 2003, <a href="/publications/gm12-geology-lewes-and-cape-henlopen-quadrangles-delaware">Geologic Map of the Lewes and Cape Henlopen quadrangles, Delaware: Delaware Geological Survey Geologic Map Series No. 12</a>, scale 1:24,000.