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Bulletin 1921

Text and References To Accompany "Map Showing the Thickness and Character of Quaternary Sediments in the Glaciated United States East of the Rocky Mountains"

By D.R. Soller

Thumbnail of report coverAbstract

A 1:1,000,000-scale map of Quaternary deposits has been compiled for the glaciated area of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains (that is, the area covered by the Laurentide ice sheets). Parts of southern Ontario, areas beneath the Great Lakes, and parts of the submerged eastern seaboard are also included on the map. The map has three components that, together, provide the first regional three-dimensional view of these deposits. These map components are the surface distribution of Quaternary sediments, the total thickness of Quaternary sediments, and the distribution of significant buried Quaternary units. For many areas, this is the first map of Quaternary sediment thickness published at any scale. This report provides supporting information for the map, preliminary interpretations of sediment distribution, and the list of geologic sources used to generate the map.

Within the mapped area, there is a particular need for three-dimensional geologic mapping to support decisions on water resources and land use. Approximately 40 percent of the U.S. population resides within the mapped area, which is less than one-quarter the size of the conterminous United States. This map is intended to supplement the more detailed mapping on which it is based and is designed to be a regional planning tool.

Through the Pleistocene, large deposits of thick glacial sediment accumulated between certain late Wisconsinan glacial lobes, on bedrock topographic highs, whereas relatively thin deposits generally accumulated in the adjacent bedrock lowlands occupied by drainage and ice lobes. The lithology of the bedrock and its resistance to erosion in part controlled the patterns of ice lobation and the distribution of thick sediment. On a local scale, the spatial relation of these sediment masses to ice lobation has been suggested in places, and a regional correlation may have been assumed. This map provides the first comprehensive, regional view of glacial sediment thickness to permit such a correlation to be assessed.

First posted March 26, 2012

For additional information contact:
David R. Soller
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
MS 926-A National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Telephone: (703) 648-6907

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Soller, D.R., 1992, Text and references to accompany "Map showing the thickness and character of Quaternary sediments in the glaciated United States east of the Rocky Mountains": U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1921, 54 p.



Section l-Map Description and General Comments


Digital Map Production and the Base Map

Map Units

Factors Affecting Sediment Texture and Distribution


References Cited

Section 2-Sources and Reliability of Map Data














New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York

North Dakota



Rhode Island

South Dakota



Great Lakes

Atlantic Offshore

Ontario, Canada

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