A temporary exposure at the Midshore Regional Solid Waste Facility near Easton, MD, provided an opportunity to document the characteristics of the complex assemblage of surficial facies in that area. This unusually large cross section allowed interpretation of the changing processes that shaped the landscape in response to climate change through the late Pleistocene. Eight stratigraphic units were recognized: (1) gray, fossiliferous, muddy silt of the marine Miocene Choptank Formation; (2) coarse, crossbedded conglomerate of the late Miocene to Pliocene fluvial Pensauken Formation; (3) bioturbated muddy conglomerate interpreted as deposits of small colluvial fans; (4) pebbly, quartzose sand overlying a planar erosional surface reflecting a marine transgression; (5) irregular pods and lenses of sand and gravel deformed into bowl-shaped folds and faulted, which are interpreted as wind deposits over a semipermanent snow cover (niveo-aeolian deposits); (6) crossbedded sand and conglomerate with abundant mud partings indicating tidal influences on sinuous stream channels; (7) heavily bioturbated silt and sand with abundant root casts and flattened vesicles interpreted as aeolian loess deposits in marshy fens; and (8) pebbly sand and mud with scattered boulders and cobbles that reflect modern infill of the excavation by the operators. Soils formed on units 3, 4, and 7. Superimposed on units 4, 5, and 7 is evidence of deep freezing and permafrost development and subsequent thermokarst development after thawing, which includes large, complexly filled wedge-shaped cracks, deformed bedding and faults, fluid-injection structures, and spherical blobs of sand and mud. Each of the stratigraphic units has irregular distributions and lateral changes. The results of this study provide a unique insight into the geometry of surficial deposits that will help facilitate mapping of units, interpretation of cored intervals, and understanding of ground-penetrating radar profiles. The study also documents the widespread effects of permafrost during the last glacial episode well south of the maximum advance of ice sheets.
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USGS Numbered Series
Investigation into the Origin and Character of Surficial Sedimentary Deposits at the Midshore Regional Solid Waste Facility near Easton, Maryland