A principal focus for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal and Marine Geology Program (marine.usgs.gov) is regional reconnaissance mapping of inner-continental shelf areas, with initial emphasis on heavily used areas of the sea floor near major population centers. The objectives are to develop a detailed regional synthesis of the sea-floor geology in order to provide information for a wide range of management decisions and to form a basis for further investigations of marine geological processes. In 1995, the USGS, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), New York District, began to generate reconnaissance maps of the continental shelf seaward of the New York - New Jersey metropolitan area. This mapping encompassed the New York Bight inner-continental shelf, one of the most heavily trafficked and exploited coastal regions in the United States. Contiguous areas of the Hudson Shelf Valley, the largest physiographic feature on this segment of the continental shelf, also were mapped as part of a USGS study of contaminated sediments (Buchholtz ten Brink and others, 1994; 1996).
The goal of the reconnaissance mapping was to provide a regional synthesis of the sea-floor geology in the New York Bight area, including: (a) a description of sea-floor morphology; (b) a map of sea-floor sedimentary lithotypes; (c) the geometry and structure of the Cretaceous strata and Quaternary deposits; and (d) the geologic history of the region. Pursuing the course of this mapping effort, we obtained sidescan-sonar images of 100 % of the sea floor in the study area. Initial interpretations of these sidescan data were presented by Schwab and others, (1997a, 1997b, 2000a). High-resolution seismic-reflection profiles collected along each sidescan-sonar line used multiple acoustic sources (e.g., watergun, CHIRP, Geopulse). Multibeam swath-bathymetry data also were obtained for a portion of the study area (Butman and others, 1998;). In this report, we present a series of structural and sediment isopach maps and interpretations of the Quaternary evolution of the inner-continental shelf off the New York - New Jersey metropolitan area based on subbottom, sidescan-sonar, and multibeam-bathymetric data.