Ground-penetrating-radar (GPR) profiles calibrated with core data allow accurate assessments of coastal barrier volumes. We applied this procedure successfully to the barrier system along Saco Bay, Maine (USA), as part of a sediment-budget study that focused on present-day sand volumes in various coastal, shoreface, and inner-shelf lith-osomes, and on sand fluxes that have affected the volume or distribution of sand in these sediment bodies through time. On GPR profiles, the components of the barrier lithosome are readily differentiated from other facies, except where the radar signal is attenuated by brackish or salty groundwater. Significant differences between dielectric properties of the barrier lithosome and other units commonly result in strong boundary reflectors. The mostly sandy barrier sediments allow deep penetration of GPR waves, in contrast to finer-grained strata and till-covered bedrock. Within the Saco Bay barrier system, 22 ??3 x 106 m3 of sediment are unevenly distributed. Two-thirds of the total barrier volume is contained within the northern and southern ends of the study area, in the Pine Point spit and the Ferry Beach/Goosefare complex, respectively. The central area around Old Orchard Beach is locally covered by only a thin veneer of barrier sand, averaging <3 m, that unconformably overlies shallow pre-Holocene facies. The prominence of barrier-spit facies and the distribution pattern of back-barrier sediments indicate that a high degree of segmentation, governed by antecedent topography, has affected the development of the Saco Bay barrier system. The present-day configuration of the barrier and back-barrier region along Saco Bay, however, conceals much of its early compartmentalized character.
Additional publication details
Volumetric analysis of a New England barrier system using ground-penetrating-radar and coring techniques