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Surficial sediments along the inner Continental shelf of Maine

Marine Georesources and Geotechnology

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Abstract

Through 10 years of support from the Minerals Management Service-Association of American State Geologists' Continental Margins Program we have mapped along the Maine coast, seaward to the 100 m isobath. In all, 1,773 bottom sample stations were occupied, 3,358 km of side-scan sonar and 5,011 km of seismic reflection profiles were gathered. On the basis of these data, a surficial sediment map was created for the Maine inner continental shelf during the Year 8 project, and cores and seismic data were collected to evaluate sand thickness during Years 9 and 10. Sand covers only 8% of the Maine shelf, and is concentrated seaward of beaches off southern Maine in water depths less than 60 m. Sand occurs in three depositional settings: (1) in shoreface deposits connected dynamically to contemporary beaches; (2) in submerged deltas associated with lower sea-level positions; and (3) in submerged lowstand shoreline positions between 50 and 60 m. Seismic profiles over the shoreface off Saco Bay, Wells Embayment, and off the Kennebec River mouth each imaged a wedge-shaped acoustic unit which tapered off between 20 and 30 m. Cores determined that this was sand that was underlain by a variable but thin (commonly < 1 m) deposit of estuarine muddy sand and a thick deposit of glacial-marine mud. Off Saco Bay, more than 55 million m3 of sand exists in the shoreface, compared with about 22 million m3 on the adjacent beach and dunes. Seaward of the Kennebec River, a large delta deposited between 13 ka and the present time holds more than 300 million m3 of sand and gravel. The best sorted sand is on the surface nearshore, with increasing amounts of gravel offshore and mud beneath the surficial sand sheet. Bedforms indicate that the surficial sand is moved by waves to at least 55 m depth. Seaward of the Penobscot River, no significant sand or gravel was encountered. Muddy estuarine sediments overlie muddy glacial-marine sediment throughout the area offshore area of this river. No satifactory explanation is offered for lack of a sandy delta seaward of Maine's largest river. Lowstand-shoreline deposits were cored in many places in Saco Bay and off the Kennebec River mouth. Datable materials from cores indicated that the lowstand occurred around 10.5 ka off the Kennebec. Cores did not penetrate glacial-marine sediment in the lowstand deposits, and seismic profiles were ambiguous about the vertical extent of sand in these units. For these reasons, no total thickness of sand was determined from the lowstand deposits, but given the area of the surficial sand, the volume is probably in the hundreds of millions of cubic meters.Through 10 years of support from the Minerals Management Service, the Association of American State Geologists' Continental Margins Program have mapped along the Maine coast, seaward to the 100 m isobath. In all, 1,773 bottom samples stations were occupied, 3,358 km of side-scan sonar and 5,011 km of seismic reflection profiles were gathered. On the basis of these data, a surficial sediment map was created for the Maine inner continental shelf during the year 8 project, and cores and seismic data were collected to evaluate sand thickness during year 9 and year 10.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Surficial sediments along the inner Continental shelf of Maine
Series title:
Marine Georesources and Geotechnology
Volume
17
Issue:
2-3
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publisher location:
London, United Kingdom
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Marine Georesources and Geotechnology
First page:
125