RI75 Stratigraphy and Correlation of the Oligocene to Pleistocene Section at Bethany Beach, Delaware
The Bethany Beach borehole (Qj32-27) provides a nearly continuous record of the Oligocene to Pleistocene formations of eastern Sussex County, Delaware. This 1470-ft-deep, continuously cored hole penetrated Oligocene, Miocene, and Pleistocene stratigraphic units that contain important water-bearing intervals. The resulting detailed data on lithology, ages, and environments make this site an important reference section for the subsurface geology of the region.
Investigation of the Neogene and Quaternary geology of the Milford and Mispillion River quadrangles has identified six formations: the Calvert, Choptank, and St. Marys formations of the Chesapeake Group, the Columbia Formation, and the Lynch Heights and Scotts Comers formations of the Delaware Bay Group. Stream, swamp, marsh, shoreline, and estuarine and bay deposits of Holocene age are also recognized. The Calvert, Choptank, and St. Marys formations were deposited in inner shelf marine environments during the early to late Miocene. The Columbia Formation is of fluvial origin and was deposited during the middle Pleistocene prior to the erosion and deposition associated with the formation of the Lynch Heights Formation. The Lynch Heights Formation is of fluvial and estuarine origin and is of middle Pleistocene age. The Scotts Corners Formation was deposited in tidal, nearshore, and estuarine environments and is of late Pleistocene age. The Scotts Corners Formation and the Lynch Heights Formation are each interpreted to have been deposited during more than one cycle of sea-level rise and fall. Latest Pleistocene and Holocene deposition has occurred over the last 11,000 years.
Gray to grayish-brown, clayey silt to silty clay interbedded with gray to light-gray silty to fine to coarse quartz sands. Discontinuous beds of shell are common in the sands and in the clayey silts. Found in the subsurface throughout Kent County. Interpreted to be a marine deposit. Rarely the surficial unit on the uplands in northwestern Kent County where the Columbia or Beaverdam Formations are absent. Outcrops are patchy and are too small to be shown on this map. Three major aquifers are found within the Calvert Formation in Kent County: the Frederica, Federalsburg, and Cheswold, from top to bottom, respectively (McLaughlin and Velez, 2006). Ranges up to 425 feet thick.
The Calvert Formation, deposited in a shallow sea during the late Oligocene and early to middle Miocene (15-27 million years ago), contains a very rich fossil microflora, both in terms of number of specimens and number of species. Most abundant are pollen of oak, pine, and hickory, but exotic taxa (those that no longer occur in Delaware) are present in all samples of this formation. They include pollen of Engelhardia type, Manilkara, Planera (water elm), Alangium(?), and palms. All of these exotics are genera of subtropical or tropical regions, some occurring now in Central America, Florida, and east Asia. The climate during the deposition of the Calvert Formation was probably subtropical and moist.
This Bulletin presents the subsurface stratigraphy of the post-Potomac Cretaceous and Tertiary rocks of the Atlantic Coastal Plain of central Delaware, between the Chesapeake and Delaware (C & D) Canal and Dover. Geophysical log correlations supported by biostratigraphic and lithologic data from boreholes in Delaware and nearby New Jersey provide the basis for the report. The stratigraphic framework presented here is important for identifying subsurface stratigraphic units penetrated by the numerous boreholes in this part of Delaware, particularly those rock units that serve as aquifers, because such knowledge allows for better prediction at ground-water movement and availability. Also, accurate stratigraphy is a prerequisite for interpreting the geologic history of the rocks and for the construction of maps that depict the structure and thickness of each unit.
The Pollack Farm Site near Cheswold, Delaware, is named for a borrow pit excavated during highway construction. The excavation exposed a portion of the Cheswold sands of the lower Miocene Calvert Formation. Two sand intervals (Cheswold C-3 and C-4) yielded a diverse assemblage of land and marine vertebrate remains and more than 100 species of mollusks. An isolated occurrence of a sandy silt (the radiolarian bed) stratigraphically between the two macrofossil-bearing units yielded only siliceous microfossils—radiolarians, diatoms, and sponge spicules.
The ground-water recharge potential map of Kent County, Delaware, is a compilation of 1:24,000-scale maps of the water-transmitting properties of sediments in the interval between land surface and 20 ft below land surface. Water-transmitting properties are a key factor in determining the amount of water that recharges Delaware’s aquifers and the susceptibility of aquifers used as sources of water supply to contamination from near-surface pollutant sources. The mapping methodology was developed by Andres (1991) for the geologic characteristics of the Atlantic Coastal Plain portion of Delaware. Mapping and methods development started in 1990 and the final maps were completed in 2002 (Andres et al., 2002). Additional information about the map and methodology and a list of cited references are presented on the reverse side. The mapping program was funded by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Delaware Geological Survey.
This map shows the surficial geology of Kent County, Delaware at a scale of 1:100,000. Maps at this scale are useful for viewing the general geologic framework on a county-wide basis, determining the geology of watersheds, and recognizing the relationship of geology to regional or county-wide environmental or land-use issues. This map, when combined with the subsurface geologic information, provides a basis for locating water supplies, mapping ground-water recharge areas, and protecting ground and surface water. Geologic maps are also used to identify geologic hazards, such as flood-prone areas, to identify sand and gravel resources, and to support state, county, and local land-use and planning decisions.