This review summarizes the present knowledge of the subsurface geology and resource potential of southern Delaware and outlines the needs for future studies to gain further understanding of these matters. Because of the present interest in exploring for oil and gas beneath the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf it is most timely that the primary resource considered in this report be the hydrocarbon (petroleum and natural gas) potential of the State. Hydrocarbons occur in commercial quantities only in thick sections of sedimentary rock, therefore, southern Delaware (primarily Sussex County) is the focus of this study because the thickest sedimentary rock section in the State is here. Assessment of the hydrocarbon potential of this area also has bearing on other resources such as groundwater (both fresh water and subsurface brines), underground storage of natural gas, and underground waste disposal.
The Delaware Geological Survey conducted a review of existing ground-water quality data collected from shallow (less than 100 feet deep) domestic water-supply wells and small public water-supply wells (serving fewer than 100 residents) to determine the extent to which toxic and carcinogenic compounds are present in the shallow ground water serving domestic water supply wells. These data were generated by several agencies including the Delaware Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Division of Public Health Office of Drinking Water, and the Delaware Department of Agriculture Pesticide Management Program.
The purpose of this report is to characterize Delaware Atlantic Coast beach sand on the basis of sand texture data in order to identify geologic material suitable for beach nourishment.
Population and accompanying water use are expected to increase by 34 percent in southeastern Delaware between 1975 and 2000. To assess the capability of the aquifers in that area to supply the required amount of ground water, a study of those aquifers was started in 1976. Interpretation of geologic sections developed from drilling and geophysical data showed that the confining beds between the Manokin, Ocean City, and Pocomoke aquifers of Neogene age are thin and discontinuous in some parts of the area. Possible fault zones coinciding with deep tectonic features may also contribute to interconnection of these aquifers. Hydrographs of water levels in the aquifers show differential drawdown during periods of heavy pumping, but levels return to a common altitude during unstressed periods. Because of these characteristics, the Manokin, Ocean City, and Pocomoke aquifers are considered to be a single confined aquifer, in most places.
RI36 History of Oil and Gas Exploration in the Mid-Atlantic Region and Delaware's Involvement in the Federal OCS Leasing Program
There has been sporadic exploration for oil and gas in the Mid-Atlantic region for over 50 years. Non-commercial deposits of oil and gas have recently been discovered in the sedimentary rock section of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) 80 miles off the New Jersey-Delaware coast. The oil and gas occurs within entrapment structures in ancient rocks deposited and buried in a deep basin called the Baltimore Canyon trough. This trough forms part of the Coastal Plain and continental shelf geologic provinces on the Atlantic Coast.
On January 4, 1992 an intense storm moved from the east across the Delmarva Peninsula and the Chesapeake Bay. Its track was the result of the low pressure being pulled westward by a strong cold-cored upper low moving across Georgia and South Carolina. The storm exhibited tropical/subtropical characteristics on radar. Satellite photos indicate that an "eye" to the storm formed just prior to landfall. Landfall occurred over the southern Delmarva Peninsula just prior to the time of high tide (0648 at Ocean City, Md). The storm weakened rapidly as it moved over land areas with a secondary area redeveloping farther out to sea later in the day on the 4th. Approximate locations of the storm's track are given on Figure 1. As the storm moved across the Delmarva Peninsula perpendicular to the coast, Delaware was in the right-foreward quadrant to the north of the "eye" of the storm. This position typically produces the highest winds associated with a tropical storm. These winds created high waves that in conjunction with an astronomical high tide (new moon) produced strong surf and abnormally high tides along the shore. Rainfall from the storm in Delaware was not heavy enough to cause flooding of streams. Coastal flooding of marshes and low-lying areas did occur along the Inland Bays and along Delaware Bay.
OFR33 Ground-Water Level and Chemistry Data from the Coastal Sussex County, Delaware, Ground-Water Quality Survey
This report contains the supporting ground-water level and chemistry data and the data collection methodology for Delaware Geological Survey Report of Investigations No. 49, "Results of the Coastal Sussex County, Delaware, Ground-Water Quality Survey" (Andres, 1991). Because raw data are commonly requested, they are published here in open-file format to accommodate those needing it for further analysis.
The unconfined aquifer in central and southeastern Delaware occurs as a southward-thickening blanket of fine to coarse sand, and is recharged almost totally by precipitation and discharge is principally by seepage to streams, bays, and the ocean.
Sussex County is in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Its relatively flat, featureless topography is characterized by two terrace-like surfaces; the lower one rises from sea level to about 40 feet above sea level, and the higher one rises inland from 40 to about 60 feet above sea level. Peculiar landforms of low relief, broad ovals, similar to the "Carolina bays," and to the "New Jersey basins" are common on the sandy flat divides in Sussex County. Hydrologically, they are sites of much ground-water discharge, by evapotranspiration, from meadow and marsh of lush vegetation.
Analyses of drillers' and geophysical logs, cuttings, and 29 core samples from well Nc13-3 near Greenwood, Sussex County, Delaware indicate that the 1500-foot section penetrated by the drill can be divided into seven rock-stratigraphic units: Matawan Formation, Monmouth Formation, unit A, Piney Point Formation, Chesapeake Group (undifferentiated), Staytonville unit, and the Columbia Formation. The rock units are identified on the basis of texture, mineralogy, color, and interpretation of electric and gamma-ray logs. The oldest rocks penetrated are Upper Cretaceous; Tertiary and Quaternary rocks were also encountered. Correlations of the units encountered in the Greenwood test well with subsurface formations in adjacent parts of the Coastal Plain are explored utilizing lithologies, ages, positions in the stratigraphic column, and geophysical characteristics as criteria. Major time boundaries (Cretaceous-Tertiary; Early-Late Paleocene; Paleocene-Eocene; and Eocene-Miocene) are established by a preliminary study of mainly planktonic foraminifera. The Miocene-Pleistocene boundary was determined on changes in lithology across the unconformable contact.
The need for locating additional sources of ground water for the Delaware Atlantic seashore, a predominantly recreation-oriented area, is indicated by an expanding population in the belt between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., combined with increasing leisure time. Present water use in the shore area is approximately 4 million gallons per day and will reach 9.3 million gallons per day by the year 2000. A new geologic interpretation of the occurrence of deep aquifers in the Delaware Atlantic seashore area is presented. Recent data from deep wells has enabled the construction of a more accurate geologic framework upon which the hydrologic data are superimposed. Correlation of Miocene sands concludes that the Manokin aquifer lies at greater depths in southeastern Delaware than previously thought.
The ground-water recharge potential map of Sussex 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.
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.