ABSTRACT

This paper describes the efforts of one of the twenty-three coastal states to assess the types, quantity, and economic quality of minerals that have accumulated in the unexplored underwater land area owned and controlled by the state. It describes the selection of offshore sampling stations, the procedures and instrumentation used to profile and photograph the topography of the seafloor, the equipment used for sample recovery, and briefly describes the procedures established to identify the recovered minerals.

INTRODUCTION

When the United States Government ratified the Law of the Continental Shelf in 1964, it extended its continental territory by 23%, or 850,000 square miles (Table I). This relatively unexplored land area was immediately considered to have geological and economic potential in addition to its military and defense significance. The United States Government then enacted a law ruling that the land beneath the territorial sea (3-mi limit) and beneath the internal waters, such as bays, estuaries, and sounds, would come under the complete sovereignty of the immediately adjacent coastal states, which then shared about 40,000 square miles of underwater land (Table I). The only exceptions to the government ruling involves Texas and the west coast of Florida where the state boundary was extended out to a distance of three leagues seaward.

Connecticut did not benefit from this land acquisition, since the State's territorial boundary had for many years included some 573 square miles of underwater land beneath the waters of Long Island and Fishers Island Sounds. Both Sounds are in the category of "Internal Waters", with the State of New York controlling approximately 726 square miles of the underwater land area (Ref. 1).

Few of the coastal states have sponsored offshore research to determine the mineral content and distribution of the unconsolidated marine sediments. The only known state sponsored offshore research, other than that undertaken by state universities, includes:

  1. California's investigations into ancient calcium-bearing oystershell, glauconite, phosphorite and gold deposits, and

  2. Florida Broward County's sand inventory program for the location of offshore sand deposits along the 26 mi of county coastline for a distance of 6000ft seaward.

In 1965 the State of Connecticut created the Connecticut Research Commission to support research which is directed at problems, matters, or areas relevant to the interest, welfare, and economic betterment of the citizens of Connecticut. The Commission has a small full-time staff which supports the Commissioners who are drawn from private industry and academic institutions within the State.

A research grant was awarded to the United Aircraft Research Laboratories by the Commission to determine the mineral content and distribution of the unconsolidated sediments in Long Island and Fishers Island Sounds. Of primary interest was the possibility of locating marine sand and gravel deposits that would increase the state's depleting sand and gravel reserves. In 1963, for example, the State of Connecticut used 13.6% of its available terrestrial sand and gravel supply. Further development of land reserves is limited because of zoning laws and urban expansion in the state's 169 townships.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.