Abstract

The distribution and morphology of submarine canyons off the eastern United States between Hudson and Baltimore Canyons have been mapped by long-range sidescan sonar. In this area canyons are numerous, and their spacing correlates with overall slope gradient; they are absent where the gradient is less than 3°, are 2 to 10 km apart where the gradient is 3° to 5°, and are 1.5 to 4 km apart where the gradient exceeds 6°. Canyons range from straight to sinuous; those having sinuous axes indent the edge of the continental shelf and appear to be older than those that head on the upper slope and have straighter axes. A difference in canyon age would suggest that canyons are initiated on the continental slope and only with greater age erode headward to indent the shelf. Shallow gullies on the middle and upper slope parts of the canyon walls suggest that submarine erosion has been a major process in a recent phase of canyon development.

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