Publication Rights Reserved
The Atlantic Coastal Plain and Continental Shelf of North America is represented by a belt of Mesozoic and Cenozoic rocks, 150 to 300 miles wide and 2,400 miles long, extending from southern Florida to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland (fig. 1). This belt encompasses an area of about 400,000 to 450,000square miles, more than three-fourths of which is covered to depths of 600 feet by the Atlantic Ocean. The volume of Mesozoic and Cenozoic rocks beneath the Atlantic Coastal Plain and Continental Shelf exceeds 450,000cubic miles, perhaps by a considerable amount. More than one-half of this is seaward far enough to contain marine source rocks in sufficient proportion to attract exploration for oil. A larger fraction, perhaps three-quarters of the volume, may be of interest in exploration for gas. The Coastal Plain consists of an area of more than 100,000 square miles between the crystalline piedmont of the Appalachian System and mean low-tide from southern Florida to the tip of Long Island plus a few small offshore islands and the Cape Cod Peninsula. The Continental Shelf extends from mean low-tide to the break marking the beginning of the continental rise, which is somewhat less than 600 feet in depth at most places. It is a gently sloping platform, about 350,000 square miles in area, that widens from less than 3 miles off southern Florida to about 285 miles off Newfoundland. The Blake Plateau occupies an area of about 70,000 square miles between the 500-foot and 5,000-foot bottom contours from the Cape Hatteras vicinity to the northernmost bank of the Bahamas. It has a gentle slope with only minor irregularities and scattered patches of Recent sediments. Both gravity and magnetic anomalies along the Atlantic Coast reflect primarily compositional differences at considerable depths in the earth's crust, but are related to some extent to the structure and composition of the Coastal Plain sedimentary rocks and shallow basement. Four alternating belts of predominantly positive and predominantly negative Bouguer gravity anomalies extend diagonally across the region from southwest to northeast (as shown on the Bouguer Anomaly Map of the United States, U. S. Geol. Survey, 1964). These correspond roughly with the continental rise and slope, the Continental Shelf and Coastal Plain, the Appalachian Mountain System front, and the Piedmont Plateau-Blue Ridge-Appalachian Basin region.