Sand dunes on the central Delmarva Peninsula, Maryland and Delaware

Professional Paper 1067-C




Inconspicuous ancient sand dunes are present in parts of the central Delmarva Peninsula, Maryland and Delaware. Many dunes are roughly V-shaped, built by northwest winds, especially on the east sides of some of the large rivers. On the uplands, the form and spacing of the dunes are variable. A surficial blanket composed mainly of medium and fine-grained sand-the Parsonsburg Sand-forms both the ancient dunes and the broad plains between the dunes. The sand that forms the dunes is massive and intensely burrowed in the upper part; traces of horizontal or slightly inclined bedding appear near the base. Quartz is the dominant mineral constituent of the sand. Microline is abundant in the very fine to fine sand fraction. The heavy-mineral assemblages (high zircon, tourmaline, rutile) are more mature than in most of the possible source rocks. The most abundant minerals in the clay-sized fraction are dioctahedral vermiculite, kaolinite, illite, montmorillonite, and gibbsite. The first four minerals are common in deposits of late Wisconsin and Holocene age. The gibbsite may be detrital, coming from weathered rocks of Tertiary age. The soil profile in the dune sand is weakly to moderately developed. At or near the base of the Parsonsburg Sand are peaty beds that range in age from about 30,000 to about 13,000 radiocarbon years B.P. Microfloral assemblages in the peaty beds suggest that the dunes on the uplands formed in a spruce parkland during the late Wisconsin glacial maximum. The river dunes may also be of late Wisconsin age, but could be Holocene.

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USGS Numbered Series
Sand dunes on the central Delmarva Peninsula, Maryland and Delaware
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Professional Paper
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U.S. Govt. Print Off.,
p. C1-C15