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Zone of Influence--Inner Continental Shelf of Georgia
Gary N. Bigham (2)
Ninety-three suspended-matter samples were collected from 52 stations on the inner continental shelf of Georgia during the summer of 1970. Bottom sediment, along with near-surface and near-bottom suspended-matter samples were taken. Salinity, temperature, and current direction and velocity measurements were also made to determine the nature of shelf-sediment transport processes on the inner continental shelf of Georgia. Sediments and suspended matter were analyzed by x-ray diffraction to determine clay mineralogy. It has been previously established that the Georgia rivers contribute kaolinite, smectite, and minor illite to the coastal region, while a kaolinite-illite clay mineral suite is transported southward by longshore drift so that net transport direction may be inferred by suspe ded-matter clay mineralogy patterns.
The shelf-water circulation pattern during the summer months appears to be a complex system of tidal-current and wind generated eddies superimposed on a predominantly southward drift.
Clay mineral differential settling characteristics are used to explain the suspended clay mineral distribution and to establish a "zone of influence" which extends three to ten miles offshore. This "zone" is considered to be the maximum seaward extent of Georgia present-day river-derived suspended detritus. Particulate and dissolved pollutants would probably be restricted to the "zone of influence," with continuous interchange between suspension and the bottom, as are the clay minerals, and not be contributed to the Florida current.
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