Marine geology of the Near Islands Shelf, Alaska

Open-File Report 53-245




During the summer of 1950 on the insular shelf surrounding the Near Islands, Alaska, 193 oceanographic stations were occupied from aboard the U. S. Geological Survey vessel EIDER. Bottom character and temperature observations were made at these stations. The composition and size distribution characteristics of the bottom samples have been determined. Components of terrigenous origin are angular to subangular sand and silt and angular to well rounded granules, pebbles, and cobbles, all composed of little-altered fragments of the fine grained insular rocks. Components of marine origin are the skeletons of Foraminifera, diatoms, and sponges and the broken shells of a few species of mollusks and of one echinoid species. A chart, based also on the study of approximately 600 USC&GS bottom notations, was prepared to show the distribution of these components of the sediments. Bed rock is exposed on most of the shelf; where sediment occurs terrigenous components are generally most important near shore, whereas marine components are more important seaward of the islands. Studies of the Foraminifera fauna and the diatom flora (identified by K. E. Lohman) and the few mollusks of quantitative importance show these organisms to be forms characteristic of cold or deep water or occurring in a wide range of temperature conditions. The Foraminifera exhibit depth zonation which seems to be controlled in part by temperature and in part by depth or some other variable which is a function of depth. Sphericity and roundness studies made on pebbles from the shelf, the beaches, and the fluvio-glacial deposits together with shelf topographic features and Foraminifera from sediment deposited before ice wastage was complete suggest the shelf was not subjected to prolonged surf action during the post-glacial rise of sea level. To aid in interpreting the sediments and their distribution several subaerial and marine environmental factors were investigated. Those factors found to be of most importance in determining sediment character and distribution are recent geologic history, nature of terrigenous source material, temperature, topography, rainfall, size of source area, history of the water mass, waves, and currents. The data derived from this study show the importance of climate as an important variable in determining sediment character and distribution in the Near Islands.

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USGS Numbered Series
Marine geology of the Near Islands Shelf, Alaska
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey],
200 p