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Open-File Report 2011–1005

Surficial Geology of the Sea Floor in Central Rhode Island Sound Southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island

By K.Y. McMullen, L.J. Poppe, S.D. Ackerman, D.S. Blackwood, J.D. Schaer, M.A. Nadeau, and D.A. Wood

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The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are working together to study sea-floor environments off the northeast coast of the United States. During 2008, NOAA survey H11996 collected multibeam echosounder data in a 65-square kilometer area in central Rhode Island Sound, southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island. During 2010, the USGS collected bottom photographs and sediment samples from 25 stations in this study area. The bathymetry, photography, and sediment data are used to interpret sea-floor features including scour depressions, sand waves, trawl marks, and dredge spoils. Scour depressions cover the bathymetric highs in much of the study area. Sand waves are located mostly in the southwest, and trawl marks tend to be in the northern regions. Dredge spoils are located at a disposal site in a bathymetric low in the western end of the study area. Most stations have a sea-floor surface of sand or silty sand, but eight of the stations have boulders to pea-sized gravel or gravelly sediment on the surface. Photographs show sandy areas typically have scattered burrows, shells, amphipod communities, and worm tubes. Boulders and cobbles are commonly overgrown with hydrozoans and anemones.

First posted July 5, 2011

For additional information contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
384 Woods Hole Road
Quissett Campus
Woods Hole, MA 02543
(508) 548-8700

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Suggested citation:

McMullen, K.Y. , Poppe, L.J., Ackerman, S.D., Blackwood, D.S.,Schaer, J.D., Nadeau, M.A., and Wood,D.A., 2011, Surficial Geology of the sea floor in central Rhode Island Sound southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1005, DVD-ROM. (Also available online at

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