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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1003

Sea-Floor Geology in Northeastern Block Island Sound, Rhode Island


Abstract

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Multibeam-echosounder and sidescan-sonar data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in northeastern Block Island Sound, combined with sediment samples and bottom photography collected by the U.S. Geological Survey, are used to interpret sea-floor features and sedimentary environments in this 52-square-kilometer-area offshore Rhode Island. Boulders, which are often overgrown with sessile fauna and flora, are mostly in water depths shallower than 20 meters. They are probably part of the southern flank of the Harbor Hill-Roanoke Point-Charlestown-Buzzards Bay moraine, deposited about 18,000 years ago. Scour depressions, areas of the sea floor with a coarser grained, rippled surface lying about 0.5 meter below the finer grained, surrounding sea floor, along with erosional outliers within the depressions are in a band near shore and also offshore in deep parts of the study area. Textural and bathymetric differences between areas of scour depressions and the surrounding sea floor or erosional outliers stand out in the sidescan-sonar imagery with sharp tonal contrasts. Also visible in the sidescan-sonar imagery are broad, low-profile bedforms with coarser grained troughs and finer grained crests.


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