The New Hampshire continental shelf is extremely heterogeneous and includes extensive bedrock outcrops, sand and gravel deposits and muddy basins. Many of the depositional features are glacial in origin and have been significantly modified by marine processes as sea level fluctuated since the end of the last major glaciation. Recent high resolution multibeam echosounder (MBES) bathymetric and backscatter surveys by the National Ocean Survey and University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping/Joint Hydrographic Center has revealed features of the seafloor in exceptional detail that had not been previously described. Synthesis of the MBES bathymetry and backscatter, coupled with an extensive archived database consisting of subbottom seismics, bottom sediment grain size data and vibracores, is being used to develop new surficial geology maps and significantly improve our knowledge of the character and origin of the major depositional features of the New Hampshire shelf and vicinity (with support from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management). Included are a number of large glacial features (e.g., drumlins) covering the bedrock that have been modified by marine processes (waves and currents). Some of the larger features were previously mapped (Birch, F.S. 1984. A geophysical survey of sedimentary deposits on the inner continental shelf of New Hampshire. Northeastern Geology 6:207-221), but the lack of high resolution bathymetry limited their characterization and interpretation. The new high resolution bathymetry and backscatter has resolved this limitation. Some of these deposits may represent significant sand and gravel deposits on the New Hampshire continental shelf that have the potential for future use for beach nourishment and other efforts to build coastal resiliency.
Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping
Journal or Conference Title
Geological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting, Northeastern Section
March 23-25, 2015
Bretton Woods, NH
Geological Society of America
L. G. Ward, McAvoy, Z. S., Johnson, P., and Greenaway, S. F., “Use of high resolution bathymetry and backscatter for mapping depositional environments on the New Hampshire continental shelf”, Geological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting, Northeastern Section. Bretton Woods, NH, 2015.