The Southeastern Coastal Plain: An Overview

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Book Chapter

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THE COASTAL PLAIN of the eastern and southeastern USA is composed of fairly young Cenozoic sediments that dip gently off the continent into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They form a lowrelief fringe around the edge of the continent from New York through Texas, and southward into Mexico. It covers the eroded edges of the much older rocks of the Appalachian Mountains and extends northward into the wide lowland of the Mississippi River, known as the Mississippi Embayment. Most of the Coastal Plain material is poorly consolidated clay, silt, and sand; but in the southeast it includes limestone, and in Florida this is the dominant rock type. As a result, Florida is one of the most important karst and cave regions of North America. Because of the high primary porosity and hydraulic conductivity of the limestone, the caves and karst have formed through a combination of conduit and diffuse groundwater flow that is rare elsewhere in the country. There is no western equivalent of the Coastal Plain, because the young western Coast Ranges drop steeply into the Pacific.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

The Southeastern Coastal Plain: An Overview, in A. Palmer & M. V. Palmer (Eds.), Caves and Karst of America, National Speological Society, p. 181-184