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Geomorphic characterization of the U.S. Atlantic continental margin

May 24, 2013

The increasing volume of multibeam bathymetry data collected along continental margins is providing new opportunities to study the feedbacks between sedimentary and oceanographic processes and seafloor morphology. Attempts to develop simple guidelines that describe the relationships between form and process often overlook the importance of inherited physiography in slope depositional systems. Here, we use multibeam bathymetry data and seismic reflection profiles spanning the U.S. Atlantic outer continental shelf, slope and rise from Cape Hatteras to New England to quantify the broad-scale, across-margin morphological variation. Morphometric analyses suggest the margin can be divided into four basic categories that roughly align with Quaternary sedimentary provinces. Within each category, Quaternary sedimentary processes exerted heavy modification of submarine canyons, landslide complexes and the broad-scale morphology of the continental rise, but they appear to have preserved much of the pre-Quaternary, across-margin shape of the continental slope. Without detailed constraints on the substrate structure, first-order morphological categorization the U.S. Atlantic margin does not provide a reliable framework for predicting relationships between form and process.

Publication Year 2013
Title Geomorphic characterization of the U.S. Atlantic continental margin
DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2012.12.008
Authors Daniel S. Brothers, Uri S. ten Brink, Brian D. Andrews, Jason D. Chaytor
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine Geology
Index ID 70046089
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center