Abstract

A combination of ground penetrating radar (GPR) data, core data, and aerial photographs were analyzed to better understand the evolution of two portions of Assateague Island, Maryland. The focus of the study was to investigate the applicability of using GPR data to image washover deposits in the stratigraphic record. High amplitude reflections observed in two shore-perpendicular GPR profiles were correlated to shallow (<1 m) lithologic contacts observed in sediment cores. At these contacts, deposits consisting primarily of quartz sand overlie sediments with organic matter that include degraded plant root or stem material. The underlying organic matter likely represents the vegetated portion of the barrier island that was buried by washover fans deposited during hurricanes Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012), as indicated in high-resolution aerial photographs. The GPR data were able to delineate the washover deposits from the underlying stratigraphic unit; however, the radar data did not resolve finer structures necessary to definitively differentiate washover facies from other sand-rich deposits (e.g., flood-tide deltas and dunes). Other GPR profiles contain reflections that likely correlate to geomorphic features like tidal channels and vegetated zones observed in historical aerial imagery. Burial of these features by overwash fluxes were observed in the aerial imagery and thus the resulting radar sequence is largely interpreted as washover deposits. Deeper, channel-like features that have been infilled were also observed in shore-parallel profiles and these features coincide with scour channels observed in the 1966 aerial photography. Additional sedimentological data are required to determine what role overwash played in the in-filling of these features.

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