Modification of the Quaternary stratigraphic Framework of the Inner-continental Shelf by Holocene Marine Transgression: An Example Offshore of Fire Island, New York

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seafloor mapping, inner-continental shelf, shoreface, sand ridges, sorted bedforms, sediment transport, ravinement surface, Quaternary stratigraphy

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The inner-continental shelf off Fire Island, New York was mapped in 2011 using interferometric sonar and high-resolution chirp seismic-reflection systems. The area mapped is approximately 50 km long by 8 km wide, extending from Moriches Inlet to Fire Island Inlet in water depths ranging from 8 to 32 m. The morphology of this inner-continental shelf region and modern sediment distribution patterns are determined by erosion of Pleistocene glaciofluvial sediments during the ongoing Holocene marine transgression; much of the shelf is thus an actively forming ravinement surface. Remnants of a Pleistocene outwash lobe define a submerged headland offshore of central Fire Island. East of the submerged headland, relatively older Pleistocene outwash is exposed over much of the inner-continental shelf and covered by asymmetric, sorted bedforms interpreted to indicate erosion and westward transport of reworked sediment. Erosion of the eastern flank of the submerged Pleistocene headland over the last ~ 8000 years yielded an abundance of modern sand that was transported westward and reworked into a field of shoreface-attached ridges offshore of western Fire Island. West of the submerged headland, erosion of Pleistocene outwash continues in troughs between the sand ridges, resulting in modification of the lower shoreface. Comparison of the modern sand ridge morphology with the morphology of the underlying ravinement surface suggests that the sand ridges have moved a minimum of ~ 1000 m westward since formation. Comparison of modern sediment thickness mapped in 1996–1997 and 2011 allows speculation that the nearshore/shoreface sedimentary deposit has gained sediment at the expense of deflation of the sand ridges.

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Marine Geology, v. 355, p. 346-360