The basins have been variously ascribed to glacial erosion, to obstruction of normal outlet valleys by barriers of glacial drift, and to crustal warping in connection with or independent of the presence of the glacial sheet.
A broad, low crustal arch extends southward at the junction of the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains; the emerged half of the arch, constitutes the visible lowland peninsula of Florida; the submerged half extends westward under the shallow Florida.
In North America, the crustal movements at the beginning of the period are less evident than in Europe, but a marked parallelism exists; for in the east, in the Appalachian tract, we find detrital sediments prevailing, while the open sea, with great deposits of limestone, lay out towards the west in the direction of that similar open sea which lay towards the east of Europe and extended through Asia.
The main point to observe in this connexion is that large tracts of land in many parts of the world were at a critical level as regards the sea, a condition highly favourable to frequent extensive incursions of marine waters over the low-lying areas in a period of extreme crustal instability.
The oblique trend of the coast would be even more pronounced but for a comparatively modern crustal movement, causing a depression in the northeast, with a resulting encroachment of the sea upon the land, and an elevation in the south-west, with a resulting advance of the land upon the sea.