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 geologic history of the surficial units of the Fairmount and Rehoboth Beach quadrangles is that of deposition of the Beaverdam Formation and its subsequent modification by erosion and deposition related to sea-level fluctuations during the Pleistocene. The geology reflects this complex history both onshore, in Rehoboth Bay, and offshore. Erosion during the late Pleistocene sea-level low stand and ongoing deposition offshore and in Rehoboth Bay during the Holocene rise in sea level represent the last of several cycles of erosion and deposition.
RI76 Stratigraphy, Correlation, and Depositional Environments of the Middle to Late Pleistocene Interglacial Deposits of Southern Delaware
Rising and highstands of sea level during the middle to late Pleistocene deposited swamp to nearshore sediments along the margins of an ancestral Delaware Bay, Atlantic coastline, and tributaries to an ancestral Chesapeake Bay. These deposits are divided into three lithostratigraphic groups: the Delaware Bay Group, the Assawoman Bay Group (named herein), and the Nanticoke River Group (named herein). The Delaware Bay Group, mapped along the margins of Delaware Bay, is subdivided into the Lynch Heights Formation and the Scotts Corners Formation. The Assawoman Bay Group, recognized inland of Delaware’s Atlantic Coast, is subdivided into the Omar Formation, the Ironshire Formation, and the Sinepuxent Formation. The Nanticoke River Group, found along the margins of the Nanticoke River and its tributaries, is subdivided into the Turtle Branch Formation (named herein) and the Kent Island Formation.
Delaware Bay Group deposits consist of bay-margin coarse sand and gravel that fine upward to silt and silty sand. Beds of organic-rich mud were deposited in tidal marshes. Near the present Atlantic Coast, the Delaware Bay Group includes organic-rich muds and shelly muds deposited in lagoonal environments.
Assawoman Bay Group deposits range from very fine, silty sands to silty clays with shells deposited in back-barrier lagoons, to fine to coarse, well-sorted sands deposited in barriers and spits.
Nanticoke River Group deposits consist of coarse sand and gravel that fine upward to silty clays. Oyster shells are found associated with the clays in the Turtle Branch Formation. Organic-rich clayey silts were deposited in swamps and estuaries. Well-sorted fine sands to gravelly sands were deposited on beaches and tidal flats on the flanks of the ancestral Nanticoke River and its tributaries.
The Lynch Heights, Omar, and Turtle Branch Formations are age-equivalent units associated with highstands of sea level,which occurred at approximately 400,000 and 325,000 yrs B.P. (MIS 11 and 9, respectively). The Scotts Corners, Ironshire, Sinepuxent, and Kent Island Formations are age-equivalent units associated with highstands of sea level, which occurred between 120,000 and 80,000 yrs B.P. (MIS 5e and 5a, respectively).
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.
Heterogeneous unit of light-gray to brown to light-yellowish-brown, coarse to fine sand, gravelly sand and pebble gravel with rare discontinuous beds of organic-rich clayey silt, clayey silt, and pebble gravel. Sands are quartzose with some feldspar and muscovite. Commonly capped by one to two feet of silt to fine sandy silt. Laminae of opaque heavy minerals are common. Unit underlies a terrace parallel to the present Delaware River that has elevations less than 25 feet. Interpreted to be a transgressive unit consisting of swamp, marsh, estuarine channel, beach, and bay deposits. Climate during the time of deposition was temperate to warm temperate as interpreted from fossil pollen assemblages (Ramsey, 1997). Overall thickness of the unit rarely exceeds 20 feet.
Southern New Castle County is dependent on ground water for nearly all of its water supply. The area has been undergoing development from predominately agricultural land use to urban/suburban land use (Delaware Water Supply Coordinating Council [WSCC], 2006). With this development comes a need to more accurately predict the availability of ground water to reduce the potential of overusing the resource. This report has 3 plates listed as separate files.
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.
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.
The surficial geology of the Lewes and Cape Henlopen quadrangles reflects the geologic history of the Delaware Bay estuary and successive high and low stands of sea levels during the Quaternary. The subsurface Beaverdam Formation was deposited as part of a fluvial-estuarine system during the Pliocene, the sediments of which now form the core of the Delmarva Peninsula. Following a period of glacial outwash during the early Pleistocene represented by the Columbia Formation found to the northwest of the map area (Ramsey, 1997), the Delaware River and Estuary developed their current positions. The Lynch Heights and Scotts Corners Formations (Ramsey, 1993, 1997, 2001) represent shoreline and estuarine deposits associated with high stands of sea level during the middle to late Pleistocene on the margins of the Delaware Estuary. In the map area, the Lynch Heights Formation includes relict spit and dune deposits at the ancestral intersection of the Atlantic Coast and Delaware Bay systems, similar in geomorphic position to the modern Cape Henlopen.
The surficial geology of the Ellendale and Milton quadrangles reflects the geologic history of the Delaware Bay estuary and successive high and low sea levels during the Quaternary. Ramsey (1992) interpreted the Beaverdam Formation as deposits of a fluvial-estuarine system during the Pliocene. Sediment supply was high, in part due to geomorphic adjustments in the Appalachians related to the first major Northern Hemisphere glaciations around 2.4 million years ago. The Beaverdam Formation forms the core of the central Delmarva Peninsula around which wrap the Quaternary deposits.
This map is the first detailed surficial geologic map in southern Kent and northern Sussex counties. Other maps covering the same or adjacent areas have focused on subsurface geology (Benson and Pickett, 1986), hydrogeology (Talley, 1982), or surficial geology on a regional basis (Jordan, 1964; Owens and Denny, 1979; Ramsey and Schenck, 1990). The purpose of this map is to show the distribution of geologic units found at or near the present land surface. These units are composed of the geologic materials that support agriculture and development, are mined for sand and gravel resources, and are the surface-to-subsurface pathway for water.
The scanned raster and vector datasets contains the rock unit polygons for the surficial geology for DGS Geologic Map No. 8 (Milford-Mispillion River Quadrangles). This map is the first detailed surficial geologic map in southern Kent and northern Sussex counties.
These vector and raster data sets contain the rock unit polygons for the surficial geology in the Delaware Coastal Plain covered by DGS Geologic Map No. 11 (Milton-Ellendale area) in ESRI shapefile and TIF format.
This data set contains the rock unit polygons for the surficial geology in ESRI shapefile format for DGS Geologic Map No. 14 (Geologic Map of Kent County, Delaware). This map shows the surficial geology of Kent County, Delaware, at a scale of 1:100,000.
These vector and raster data sets contain the rock unit polygons for the surficial geology in ESRI shapefile and TIF format for the Delaware Coastal Plain covered by DGS Geologic Map No. 12 (Lewes-Cape Henlopen area).
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.