Several generations of the ancestral Pee Dee River system have been mapped beneath the South Carolina Grand Strand coastline and adjacent Long Bay inner shelf. Deep boreholes onshore and high-resolution seismic-reflection data offshore allow for reconstruction of these paleochannels, which formed during glacial lowstands, when the Pee Dee River system incised subaerially exposed coastal-plain and continental-shelf strata. Paleochannel groups, representing different generations of the system, decrease in age to the southwest, where the modern Pee Dee River merges with several coastal-plain tributaries at Winyah Bay, the southern terminus of Long Bay. Positions of the successive generational groups record a regional, southwestward migration of the river system that may have initiated during the late Pliocene. The migration was primarily driven by barrier-island deposition, resulting from the interaction of fluvial and shoreline processes during eustatic highstands. Structurally driven, subsurface paleotopography associated with the Mid-Carolina Platform High has also indirectly assisted in forcing this migration. These results provide a better understanding of the evolution of the region and help explain the lack of mobile sediment on the Long Bay inner shelf. Migration of the river system caused a profound change in sediment supply during the late Pleistocene. The abundant fluvial source that once fed sand-rich barrier islands was cut off and replaced with a limited source, supplied by erosion and reworking of former coastal deposits exposed at the shore and on the inner shelf.
Additional publication details
Migration of the Pee Dee River system inferred from ancestral paleochannels underlying the South Carolina Grand Strand and Long Bay inner shelf
Geological Society of America Bulletin
Geological Society of America
Coastal and Marine Geology Program, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center