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Six multichannel seismic-reflection profiles taken across the Atlantic continental margin off the northeastern United States show an excess of 14 km of presumed Mesozoic and younger sedimentary rocks in the Baltimore Canyon trough and 8 km in the Georges Bank basin.
Beneath the continental rise, the sedimentary prism thickness exceeds 7 km south of New Jersey and Maryland, and it is 4.5 km thick south of Georges Bank. Stratigraphically, the continental slope--outer edge of the continental shelf is a transition zone of high-velocity sedimentary rock, probably carbonate, that covers deeply subsided basement.
Acoustically, the sedimentary sequence beneath the shelf is divided into three units which are correlated speculatively with the Cenozoic, the Cretaceous, and the Jurassic-Triassic sections. These units thicken offshore, and some have increased seismic velocities farther offshore. The uppermost unit thickens from a fraction of a kilometer to slightly more than a kilometer in a seaward direction, and velocity values range from 1.7 to 2.2 km/sec. The middle unit thickens from a fraction of a kilometer to as much as 5 km (northern Baltimore Canyon trough), and seismic velocity ranges from 2.2 to 5.4 km/sec. The lowest unit thickens to a maximum of 9 km (northern Baltimore Canyon), and velocities span the 3.9 to 5.9-km/sec interval.
The spatial separation of magnetic and gravity anomalies on line 2 (New Jersey) suggests that in the Baltimore Canyon region the magnetic-slope anomaly is due to edge effects and that the previously reported free-air and isostatic gravity anomalies over the outer shelf may be due in part to a lateral increase in sediment density (velocity) near the shelf edge. The East Coast magnetic anomaly and the free-air gravity high both coincide over the outer shelf edge on line 1 (Georges Bank) but are offset by 20 km from the ridge on the reflection profile. Because the magnetic-slope-anomaly wavelength is nearly 50 km across, a deep source is likely. In part, the positive free-air gravity anomaly likewise may represent the significant lateral density increase within the sedimentary section to ard the outer edge of the shelf.
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