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Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center > U.S. Geological Survey East-Coast Sediment Texture Database > Overview

U.S. Geological Survey East-Coast Sediment Texture Database

Map showing the locations of sediment samples on the U.S. East Coast

Map showing locations of sediment samples on the United States East Coast. Samples are color-coded by grain size, with coarser sediments represented as warmer colors (reds) and finer sediments represented as cooler colors (purples).


The U.S. Geological Survey East-Coast Sediment Texture Database contains information on the collection, location, description, and texture of samples taken by marine sampling programs at the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center. Most of the samples are from the Atlantic Continental Margin of the United States, a small number of samples have been collected from a variety of other locations such as Lake Baikal, Russia, the Hawaiian Islands region, Puerto Rico, and Lake Michigan. At present, the database contains about 28,000 samples, including texture data for approximately 3,800 samples taken or analyzed by the Atlantic Continental Margin Program, a joint U.S. Geological Survey/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution project conducted from 1962 to 1970 (Emery and Schlee, 1963; Hathaway; 1971). Texture data for approximately 24,000 samples analyzed by the Sediment Laboratory of the Coastal and Marine Geology Program of the U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole MA after 1980 make up the rest of the database. Although most records contain complete grain size analyses, some are simple bottom descriptions from rocky and bouldery locations where samples were not taken. Most of the samples were collected with some type of grab sampler; a few were obtained by coring.

The information contained in this database is important because grain size is the most fundamental property of sediments. Geologists use information on sediment grain size to study trends in surface processes related to the dynamic conditions of transportation and deposition, ecologists use it when studying benthic habitats, engineers use it to study permeability and stability under load, geochemists use it to study kinetic reactions and the affinities of fine-grained particles and contaminants, and hydrologists use it when studying the movement of subsurface fluids (Syvitski, 1991).

The basic structure of the database is a matrix where records are rows representing individual samples and the columns contain information on sample identification, navigation, classifications, analyzed parameters, and comments in 58 fields. The database, which can be accessed through the Data Catalog, is provided in three formats: comma delimited ASCII text (.csv), Microsoft Excel 2010 (.xls), and Esri shapefile (.shp).



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Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 10-Dec-2014 08:52:27 EST (GW)