Late Quaternary Geologic Framework, North-Central Gulf of Mexico

by Jack L. Kindinger, U.S. Geological Survey, St Petersburg, United States,
Shea Penland, U.S. Geological Survey, St Petersburg, United States,
S. Jeffress Williams, U.S. Geological Survey, St Petersburg, United States,
Gregg R. Brooks, U.S. Geological Survey, St Petersburg, United States,
John R. Suter, U.S. Geological Survey, St Petersburg, United States,
Randolph A. McBride, U.S. Geological Survey, St Petersburg, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Sediments


The geologic framework of the north-central Gulf of Mexico shelf is composed of multiple, stacked, delta systems. Shelf and nearshore sedimentary facies were deposited by deltaic progradation, followed by shoreface erosion and submergence. A variety of sedimentary facies has been identified, including prodelta, delta fringe, distributary, lagoonal, barrier island, and shelf sand sheet. This study is based on the interpretation and the synthesis of > 6,700 km of high-resolution seismic profiles, 75 grab samples, and 77 vibracores. The nearshore morphology, shallow stratigraphy, and sediment distribution of the eastern Louisiana shelf are the products of transgressive sedimentary processes reworking the abandoned St. Bernard delta complex. Relatively recent Mississippi delta lobe consists primarily of fine sand, silt, and clay. In the southern portion of the St. Bernard delta complex, asymmetrical sand ridges (>5 m relief) have formed as the result of marine reworking of distributary mouth-bar sands. Silty sediments from the modern Mississippi Birdsfoot delta onlap the St. Bernard delta complex along the southern edge. The distal margin of the St. Bernard complex is distinct and has a sharp contact on the north near the Mississippi Sound barrier island coastline and a late Wisconsinan delta to the south. The Chandeleur Islands and the barrier islands of Mississippi Sound have been formed by a combination of Holocene and Pleistocene fluvial processes, shoreface erosion, and ravinement of the exposed shelf. Sediments underlying the relatively thin Holocene sediment cover are relict fluvial sands, deposited during the late Wisconsinan lowstand. Subsequent relative sea-level rise allowed marine processes to rework and redistribute sediments that formed the nearshore fine-grained facies and the shelf sand sheet.

Subject Headings: Geology | Sediment | Gulfs | Developing countries | Erosion | Sandy soils | Islands | Nearshore | Gulf of Mexico | United States | Mississippi | Louisiana

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