A geological study was undertaken in 1981 in the Louisiana-Mississippi outer continental shelf for the Bureau of Land Management. The study included a high-resolution seismic reflection survey, surficial sediment sampling and surface current drifter sampling. Approximately 7100 sq km of the Louisiana-Mississippi shelf and upper slope were surveyed.
The sea floor of the entire area is relatively smooth except for occasional areas of uplift produced by diapiric intrusion along the upper slope. Characteristics of the topography and subsurface shelf sediments are the result of depositional sequences due to delta outbuilding over transgressive sediments with intervening periods of erosion during low sea level stands. Little evidence of structural deformation such as faults, diapirs, and shallow gas is present on the shelf and only a few minor faults and scarps are found on the slope.
Minisparker seismic records in combination with air gun (40 and 5 cu in) and 3.5-kHz subbottom profile records reveal that seven major stages of shelf development have occurred since the middle Pleistocene. The shelf development has been controlled by the rise and fall of sea level. These stages are defined by four major unconformities, several depositions of transgressive sediments, sequences of river channeling and progradational delta deposits.
Surficial sediment sample and seismic records indicate tat the last major depositional event was the progradation of the St. Bernard Delta lobe. This delta lobe covered the northwestern and central regions. Surficial sediments in most of the study area are the product of the reworking of the San Bernard Delta lobe and previous progradations.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Depositional history of Louisiana-Mississippi outer continental shelf