An 1800-joule sparker survey of the West Florida continental slope between about 26?N and 29?15?N showed a top bed of Pleistocene age forming an irregular drape over a surface that is probably Pliocene. The contact between the top two layers is unconformable in the south and, in some places, shows karst collapse and solution features. Karst topography grades into a more hummocky erosional surface to the north, which in turn smoothes out; the contact become conformable still further north. A period of folding, which is widespread over the outer portion of the study area and which may be related to large scale mass wasting, occurred at about the same time represented by the unconformity. Significant subsidence has occurred as late as Pleistocene.
The surface layer thins to a minimum (0 in the south) at about 525-meters water depth and then thickens again dramatically to the west, downslope. This thinning is interpreted to be due to the Loop Current, which flows from north to south in the area and which acts to block deposition and scour the bottom.
Despite the fact that the margin is dominated by carbonates, usually associated with low sedimentation rates, there is widespread evidence of mass wasting affecting ancient and surficial deposits on the outer part of the upper slope.
Three potential groups of geohazards identified are:
1. Potential bottom failure in areas where a thin top layer overlies the karst surface.
2. Potential for sliding and slumping.
3. Scour due to currents which could also affect drilling and engineering activities.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Shallow structure and stratigraphy of the carbonate West Florida continental slope and their implications to sedimentation and geohazards