The structure and stratigraphy of the Florida-Hatteras Slope and inner Blake Plateau was studied by means of 4,780 km of single-channel air gun seismic reflection profiles. Control for the seismic stratigraphy is provided by correlating reflecting units and paleontologically dated stratigraphic units identified in offshore wells and dredge hauls. Many Tertiary unconformities exist, and major regional unconformities at the end of the Oligocene and in the late Paleocene are mapped. Reflecting surfaces believed to represent the tops of the Cretaceous, Paleocene, and Oligocene extend throughout the region. Upper Cretaceous (pre-Maastrichtian) rocks on the southeastern side of the Carolina Platform form a large seaward-facing progradational wedge. The Upper Cretaceous rocks in the Southeast Georgia Embayment, are seismically transparent and on the inner Blake Plateau are cut by numerous small faults, perhaps due to compaction.
Within the survey area relatively flat-lying Maastrichtian and Paleocene strata show no evidence that a feature similar to the present Florida-Hatteras Slope existed at the beginning of the Tertiary. Late Paleocene erosion, related to the initiation of the Gulf Stream flow, probably developed this regional unconformity. Eocene and Oligocene sediments landward of the present Gulf Stream form a thick sequence of seaward-dipping progradational beds. A seaward progradational wedge of Miocene to Holocene age covers a regionally traceable unconformity, which separates the Oligocene from the Miocene sediments. Under and seaward of the present Gulf Stream, the Eocene and younger sediment supply was much smaller and the buildup is comparatively insignificant. The difference in accumulation rates in the Eocene and younger sediments, landward and seaward of the Gulf Stream, is responsible for the Florida-Hatteras Slope. Tertiary isopach maps suggest that there is a well developed triangular depocenter under the shelf. The edges of the depocenter correspond with magnetic anomalies and it is suggested that the depocenter is related to differential subsidence during the Tertiary across older crustal structures. The Eocene and Oligocene units contain the aquifer onshore, and the aquifer probably remains in these units offshore. With this assumption the potential aquifer has been identified and traced under the shelf and slope.