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Book Chapter

Pleistocene-Recent Stratigraphy, Evolution, and Development of the Apalachicola Coast, Florida

By
Jon E. Schnable
Jon E. Schnable
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H. Grant Goodell
H. Grant Goodell
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Published:
January 01, 1968

A subsurface investigation of the coastal areas in the Apalachicola delta region on the northwest Florida coast indicates that the Pleistocene sediments, which thicken to the southwest, have been deposited on an uneven Miocene surface of variable age. The thickest Pleistocene section, west of the mouth of the Apalachicola River, consists of two superimposed sequences of terrigenous clastic sediments. Each sequence grades upward from coarse to fine, and represents two major Late Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations. Radiocarbon dates and stratigraphic relationships indicate that the upper of these sequences probably represents a mid-Wisconsin transgression of the sea, and the lower represents a Sangamon transgression.

The thickest section of Recent sediments lies in the old incised valley of the Apalachicola River which was cut during the last lowering of sea level. These deltaic, prodeltaic, and bay sediments represent the gradual filling of the drowned river valley, which was inundated by the Recent rise in sea level. The bays, barrier islands, and spits are the only other areas of any significant Recent sedimentation with the exception of one offshore basin to the southwest of the present river mouth.

Radiocarbon dates, stratigraphic relationships, and environmental interpretations suggest that there was a relatively high stand of the sea that was very near present sea level sometime between 24,000 and 40,000 years B.P. Geomorphologic evidence in the area indicates that this high stand may have been slightly higher than present sea level and probably corresponds to the Silver Bluff shoreline of Florida and Georgia.

No evidence has been found for a Recent higher sea-level stand, and radiocarbon dates and sediments indicate that sea level was approximately 10 to 15 feet below its present level sometime between 4000 and 4500 years ago. A rather rapid rise probably occurred after this time to a position slightly below present sea level, from which it has gradually risen to its present position.

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