In an extensive program of side-scan sonar and seismic reflection profiling, bottom sampling and vibracoring, we have mapped the western Gulf of Maine between Canada and Massachusetts, from the shoreline to the 100 m isobath. The purpose of the program was, in part, to locate and evaluate sand resources on the inner shelf. Surficial sand occurs on only 7% of this formerly glaciated region, and most is located seaward of southern Maine's large beaches in Wells Embayment, Saco Bay, and off Cape Small. Sand deposits occur 1) at the lowstand position of sea level, between 50 and 60 m depth, 2) on parts of the inner shelf between 50 m and the shoreface, and 3) in the shoreface. A paleodelta of the region's largest river, the Kennebec, occurs off Cape Small. Elsewhere, the lowstand deposits are thinner (<3 m) and form a mantle over notches cut into glacial sediment. Inner shelf deposits are found as thin (<1 m) layers unconformably overlying glacial sediment. These are widespread in Wells and Cape Small, but are confined to rock valleys by high-relief bedrock in Saco Bay. In Wells Embayment, numerous moraines were eroded during lower stands of sea level, but still possess >5 m of relief on the inner shelf and contain large quantities of material. The shoreface contains the greatest concentration of sand in each of the regions. A wedge-shaped deposit of sand overlies estuarine muddy sands in each area and is inferred to have formed during a slowdown in the rate of sea-level rise between 7.5 and 9.5 ka. The volume of shoreface sand varies from less than 60 million cubic meters in Saco Bay to more than 300 million cubic meters off Cape Small, and is loosely correlated with the erosional state of adjacent beaches.
Additional publication details
Sand volume and distribution on the paraglacial inner continental shelf of the northwestern Gulf of Maine