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Evolution of the Edge of the Continent, from the Fall Zone to the Shelf Break

M. Scott Harris, Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, College of Charleston

7 April 2017

The Coastal Plain and Continental Shelf represent a continuum across the marine and terrestrial realms.  From the last interglacial cycle where shorelines were basically at their current location, to the last glacial maximum (LGM) where all of our marine environments were pushed off the edge of the continental shelf, the eastern edge of America has undergone dozens of these transitions.  This presentation will focus on the current configuration of the Coastal Plain and Continental Shelf, and discuss the changes since the last interglacial (~80 thousand years), through the LGM (~20 thousand years) to the recent.  Using multiple geophysical techniques offshore and LiDAR onshore, delineation of the geological nature of the study area has been possible.  Glacial isostatic adjustments have also been made on the data, providing a better estimate of shoreline positions every 1,000 years since the LGM.  This base geological study provides a template of understanding for many regions extending from the Fall Zone to the edge of the Continental Shelf.