Antiquity of the Continental Slope Along the Middle-Atlantic Margin of the United States

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Science  02 Mar 1984:
Vol. 223, Issue 4639, pp. 926-928
DOI: 10.1126/science.223.4639.926


A detailed high-resolution geophysical study of part of the continental slope along the mid-Atlantic margin of the United States indicates that it is an ancient, relict landscape largely unmodified by modern slope processes. The slope morphology is heavily influenced by bedrock outcrops, including joints and bedding planes, rather than by any single degradational process. A pelagic drape averaging 3 to 5 meters in thickness blankets the slope. Carbon-14 dates from eight drop cores show that the drape was deposited in late Pleistocene and Holocene times. The Holocene part of the drape, comprising the uppermost 1 meter, was deposited at a continuous rate of 10 centimeters per 1000 years. Most features on the slope predate the drape cover.