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Research

Four Submarine Canyons on U.S. East Coast Named for Marine Geologists


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Continental slope and upper continental rise northeast of Hudson Canyon, showing the four newly named submarine canyons along the continental slope: Emery, Uchupi, Ryan, and McMaster.
Above: Continental slope and upper continental rise northeast of Hudson Canyon, showing the four newly named submarine canyons along the continental slope: Emery, Uchupi, Ryan, and McMaster. Shaded-relief bathymetric imagery constructed by Tammie Middleton from multibeam bathymetric data collected on the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown, 2002. Contour interval, 100 m; dark blue lines were derived from the NOAA Coastal Relief Model, and light yellow lines from multibeam bathymetric data collected in 2002. [larger version]

As part of a cooperative sea-floor-exploration project with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Rutgers University, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), four submarine canyons that cut the U.S. east coast continental slope northeast of the Hudson Submarine Canyon have been named for eminent marine geologists who studied the area and its geologic history and processes: Kenneth O. Emery and Elazar Uchupi of WHOI, William B.F. Ryan of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, and Robert L. McMaster of the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography.

The four newly named canyons had been known to exist but had not been mapped in detail. In August 2002, USGS and Rutgers scientists aboard the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown used the ship's multibeam echosounder to map a 110- by 205-km area about 200 km southeast of New York City, in water depths from about 500 to 4,000 m. The mapping applies to studies of the geologic history and the processes, both depositional and erosional, that have modified the sea floor, and to investigations of submarine gas hydrates.

The new map shows complex details of canyon development, a topic studied by Emery. Terraced and recut canyons are visible, as are sites where large submarine overbank flows have created additional channels down the continental slope. Areas of large sheet landslides are evident along the continental slope, and landslide deposits at the base of the slope. Early studies of these features were conducted by Ryan and his students. Lobate sedimentary deposits detected in high-resolution bathymetric data from the continental shelf off New York City were recently reported by Uchupi and colleagues as evidence that large, catastrophic discharges of water from glacial lakes poured down the Hudson River valley and swept across the continental shelf near the close of the Pleistocene Epoch. Large lobes of probable debris-flow deposits visible in the new map on the continental rise may have resulted from similar flows from lakes in Long Island Sound and Block Island Sound, a drainage pattern first mapped by McMaster. Interpretation of this new data set will reshape our understanding of continental slope and rise processes, and we are pleased to be able to honor some pioneers of modern marine geology.

The project was led by Peter Rona of Rutgers University and Brad Butman of the USGS. Other participants included Tammie Middleton (USGS), Tom Bolmer (WHOI), Laura Cottrell (State University of New York [SUNY], Stony Brook), and Kyle Kingman and Lisa Weiss (Rutgers University).


Related Web Sites
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
U.S. Department of Commerce
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
private, nonprofit research facility
Rutgers University
State University of New Jersey
Kenneth Emery
GSA Today
Elazar Uchupi
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
William Ryan
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Robert McMaster
Geology abstract

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in this issue: Fieldwork cover story:
Indian Ocean Tsunami

Could a Tsunami Happen Here?

Deltaic Habitats in Puget Sound

Invasive Sea Squirt Flourishing

How Sea Floor Sediment Moves

Research Submarine Canyons Named for Marine Geologists

Outreach Appreciation Day for Congressman Young

Students Learn About Coastal and Marine Science

Hurricanes Focus Attention on USGS Research

College Students Visit USGS Center in St. Petersburg

Scientists Participate in Great-American Teach-In

Scientists Interviewed About Invasive Sea Squirt

GIS Day

CCWS Open House

Scientists Interviewed for HBO Program

Meetings International Symposium on Coastal Issues

Jeff Williams Reviews Storm Surge Model

Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institutes Conference

Suwannee River Basin and Estuary Integrated Science Workshop

Staff & Center News Regional Executive Visits FISC Office

Jingping Xu Joins Western Coastal and Marine Geology Team

Publications Special Oceanography Issue Includes Sediment Dynamics Article

Dec. / Jan. Publications List


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