On the New Jersey shelf (offshore North America), the presence of pore water fresher than seawater is known from a series of boreholes completed during the 1970s and 1980s. To account for this fresh water, a first hypothesis involves possible present-day active dynamic connections with onshore aquifers, while a second involves meteoritic and/or sub–ice-sheet waters during periods of lowered sea level. Expedition 313 drilled three boreholes on the middle shelf, offering a unique opportunity for the internal structure of the siliciclastic system to be accessed, at scales ranging from the depositional matrix to the continental margin. This enables the stratigraphic architecture to be correlated with the spatial distribution and salinity of saturating fluids. Expedition 313 revealed both very low salinities (<3 g/L) at depths exceeding 400 m below the seafloor and evidence for a multilayered reservoir organization, with fresh- and/or brackish-water intervals alternating vertically with salty intervals. In this study we present a revised distribution of the salinity beneath the middle shelf. Our observations suggest that the processes controlling salinity are strongly influenced by lithology, porosity, and permeability. Saltier pore waters generally occur in coarse-grained intervals and fresher pore waters occur in fine-grained intervals. The transition from fresher to saltier intervals is often marked by cemented horizons that probably act as permeability barriers. In the lowermost parts of two holes, the salinity varies independently of lithology, suggesting different mechanisms and/or sources of salinity. We present an interpretation of the sedimentary facies distribution, derived from core, logs, and seismic profile analyses, that is used to discuss the margin-scale two-dimensional reservoir geometry and permeability distribution. These proposed geometries are of primary importance when considering the possible pathways and emplacement mechanisms for the fresh and salty water below the New Jersey shelf.
- Received 4 August 2012.
- Revision received 13 March 2013.
- Accepted 1 July 2013.
- © 2013 Geological Society of America