Photographs of the Upper Pleistocene section at Sankaty Head cliff, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

Miscellaneous Field Studies Map 1397



The pre-Sangamonian and Wisconsinan glacial drift units and Sangamonian marine beds exposed tin the Sankaty Head cliff (fig. 1) constitute a unique and important upper Pleistocene stratigraphic section in southern New England. Many workers have studied the section over the past 130 years, paying most attention to the fossiliferous Sankaty Sand. The earliest study was by Desor and Cabot (1849) followed by Verrill (1875), Cushman (1904), Wilson (1906), and Gustavson (1976). Currently the section at the cliff is exposed as a result of erosion during a severe winter storm in 1978. The exposure allowed a detailed study of the selection and the results of the study are included in this report and three others (Oldale and others 1981; Oldale, 1981; and Oldale and others, in press). The last report discusses the stratigraphy, structure, absolute age, and paleontology of the deposits at Sankaty Head. The southern part of the Sankaty Head cliff, where the most complete marine section is, has been stable and obscured by dense vegetation over many of the past 130 years. In the future, the cliff face could again become stabilized and overgrown, or continued erosion could destroy some of the beds now exposed. These photographs provide a record of the cliff face, beds, and structures looked in 1979. Finally, the Sankaty Head section is realtively remote, and these photographs together with a geologic profile of the cliff shown by Oldale and others (1981) may substitute for field trips to the site, albeit a somewhat less satisfying experience. 

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Photographs of the Upper Pleistocene section at Sankaty Head cliff, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts
Series title Miscellaneous Field Studies Map
Series number 1397
ISBN 060781351
DOI 10.3133/mf1397
Year Published 1982
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Description 43.62 x 38.16 inches and 40.20 x 42.38 inches
Country United States
State Massachusetts
Other Geospatial Nantucket Island
Scale 0
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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