The geology and hydrology of the area between Wrangle Hill and Delaware City, Delaware, have been the focus of numerous studies since the 1950s because of the importance of the local groundwater supply and the potential environmental impact of industrial activity. In this report, 490 boreholes from six decades of drilling provide dense coverage, allowing detailed characterization of the subsurface geologic framework that controls groundwater occurrence and flow.
The region contains a lower section of tabular Cretaceous strata (Potomac, Merchantville, Englishtown, Marshalltown,and Mount Laurel Formations in ascending order) and a more stratigraphically complex upper section of Pleistocene-to-modern units (Columbia, Lynch Heights, and Scotts Corners Formations, latest Pleistocene and Holocene surficial sediments and estuarine deposits). The lowermost Potomac Formation is a mosaic of alluvial facies and includes fluvial channel sands that function as confined aquifer beds; however, the distribution of aquifer-quality sand within the formation is extremely heterogeneous. The Merchantville Formation serves as the most significant confining layer. The Columbia Formation is predominantly sand and functions as an unconfined aquifer over much of the study area.
To delineate the distribution and character of the subsurface formations, densely spaced structural-stratigraphic cross sections were constructed and structural contour maps were created for the top of the Potomac Formation and base of the Columbia Formation. The Cretaceous formations form a series of relatively parallel strata that dip gently (0.4 degrees) to the southeast. These formations are progressively truncated to the north by more flatly dipping Quaternary sediments, except in a narrow north-south oriented belt on the east side of the study area where the deeply incised Reybold paleochannel eroded into the Potomac Formation.
The Reybold paleochannel is one of the most significant geological features in the study area. It is a relatively narrow sandfilled trough defined by deep incision at the base of the Columbia Formation. It reaches depths of more than 110 ft below sea level with a width as narrow as 1,500 ft. It is interpreted to be the result of scour by the sudden release of powerful floodwaters from the north associated with one or more Pleistocene deglaciations. Where the Reybold paleochannel cuts through the Merchantville confining layer, a potential pathway exists for hydrological communication between Columbia and Potomac aquifer sands.
East of the paleochannel, multiple cut-and-fill units within the Pleistocene to Holocene section create a complex geologic framework. The Lynch Heights and Scotts Corners Formations were deposited along the paleo-Delaware River in the late Pleistocene and are commonly eroded into the older Pleistocene Columbia Formation. They are associated with scarps and terraces that represent several generations of sea-level-driven Pleistocene cut-and-fill. They, in turn, have been locally eroded and covered by Holocene marsh and swamp deposits. The Lynch Heights and Scotts Corners Formations include sands that are unconfined aquifers but complicated geometries and short-distance facies changes make their configuration more complex than that of the Columbia Formation.
The stratigraphy of the Coastal Plain of Delaware is discussed with emphasis placed upon an appraisal of the stratigraphic nomenclature. A revised stratigraphic column for Delaware is proposed. Rock stratigraphic units, based mainly on data from certain key wells, are described and the published names which have been or which might conceivably be applied to those units are reviewed. In each case a name is chosen and the reasons for the choice are stated. The relationships between the column established for Delaware and the recognized columns for adjacent states are considered. The rock units of the Coastal Plain of New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland form an interrelated mass. However, profound facies changes do occur, particularly in the dip direction, but also along the strike. Thus, attempts to extend units established in the outcrop belt almost indefinitely into the subsurface have been unsatisfactory.
Dark-gray to gray silty clay to clayey silt that contains abundant fragments of lignite; grades downward into a very fine to fine sand with scattered and discontinuous thin beds of clayey silt with lignite fragments. Thickness ranges from 20 to 50 ft. Updip in the vicinity of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, the Magothy fills channels incised into the Potomac Formation and is discontinuous in its extent. Interpreted to have been deposited in coastal to nearshore environments.
This map shows the saturated thickness of the water-table aquifer. This aquifer consists of the deposits of the Columbia Formation and those portions of the Magothy and Englishtown-Mt. Laurel formations, and Rancocas Group that are hydraulically connected with the Columbia deposits (see Groot, Demicco, and Cherry, 1983). For example, large, saturated thicknesses in the zone trending northeast-southwest near Townsend reflect the addition of the sands of the Rancocas Group to the total thickness of the sands of the overlying Columbia Formation.
OFR21 A Guide to Fossil Sharks, Skates, and Rays from the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Area, Delaware
In recent years there has been a renewed interest by both amateur and professional paleontologists in the rich upper Cretaceous exposures along the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, Delaware (Fig. 1). Large quantities of fossil material, mostly clams, oysters, and snails have been collected as a result of this activity. Recent dredging (1978, 1981) by the United States Army Corps of Engineers has helped expose a rich vertebrate fossil assemblage. It includes representatives from the classes Reptilia, Osteichthyes, and Chondrichthyes. An extensive literature search has revealed that a wealth of information exists which would aid in the identification of the vertebrate fossils of Delaware.
RI37 Stratigraphic Nomenclature of Nonmarine Cretaceous Rocks of Inner Margin of Coastal Plain in Delaware and Adjacent States
Rocks of Cretaceous age deposited in continental and marginal environments, and now found along the inner edge of the northern Atlantic Coastal Plain, have historically been classified as the Potomac Group and the Potomac, Patuxent, Arundel, Patapsco, Raritan, and Magothy formations. Subdivisions of the Raritan and Magothy formations have also been recognized. Lithologic characteristics and spatial relationships of the units indicate that only the Potomac Formation and the Magothy Formation can be differentiated in northern Delaware. The complex nonmarine deposits originated on an aggrading coastal plain. Their projections into the deeper subsurface on- and offshore will be important in future studies. No changes in terminology are recommended, but careful use of stratigraphic nomenclature is urged in order to avoid confusion, especially in hydrologic applications.
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.
This map shows the surficial geology of New Castle 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 sinkholes and flood-prone areas, to identify sand and gravel resources, and for supporting state, county, and local land-use and planning decisions.
This dataset contains the geologic polygons used for the creation of DGS Geologic Map 13. This dataset shows the surficial geology of New Castle County, Delaware, at a scale of 1:100,000.
The location of the fresh-salt-water-boundary in the deeper aquifers of Delaware is related mainly to head values. Near coastal areas, dynamic conditions may prevail that affect the interface position within shallow aquifers open to the sea. Holocene and Columbia sands which form Delaware's shallow water-table aquifers contain brackish water in scattered coastal areas while brackish water in the artesian aquifers is found at various depths. Water from Chesapeake Group sediments (Miocene) is fresh in Kent County but is salty in poorly defined areas of Sussex County. The interface in the Piney Point Formation (Eocene) lies just north of Milford and extends in a northeast-southwesterly direction across the State. Brackish water exists in the Magothy and Potomac formations of Cretaceous age a few miles south of Middletown. Heavy pumping near sources of brackish water should be avoided for the present. Proper location of monitoring wells is necessary for detection of future chloride movement.