Florida Shelf Summary
The FLaSH Map project is a multiagency approach to benthic habitat mapping which presents existing data, such as multibeam and side-scan sonar imagery of the shelf, still and video images, streaming resistivity, and sediment grabs in a user-friendly tool, Google Sea Floor, that is available to the general public, scientists, and managers.
The Florida shelf offers considerable economic resources including commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism, recreation, mining of sand and gravel resources, phosphate and freshwater reserves. Yet, managers and the general public lack the basic information needed to know where resources are, to interpret the data for their particular problem, and to utilize the existing information of ongoing shelf processes to make informed management decisions. This tool enables users to view bathymetric maps, facies maps, sediment distribution maps in a user-friendly environment. The general public, managers, and scientists who are not experts in interpreting maps may view high resolution data in the context of a broader base map.
The Florida Shelf
The Florida shelf is a carbonate platform that is approximately 100 km in width off of St. Augustine tapering to less than 2 km by West Palm Beach to the south, while the Florida Gulf of Mexico continental shelf is a wide, low energy area extending a distance of approximately 900 km in length from the western Panhandle to the extreme Southwest margin off the Florida Keys. Both shelves are sediment-starved, and composed of a mixture of siliciclastic and carbonate sediment depending on latitude.
The West coast shelf is divided into two areas including seaward of the Panhandle and seaward of Peninsular Florida. Each of these areas is compositionally different: the Panhandle is dominated by siliciclastic sediment and Peninsular Florida is dominated by pure carbonates to the south. Additionally, the shelf merges from a marsh coast to the north to a more sediment-rich west-central barrier island system.
The East coast shelf is a higher energy coast influenced by the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic and comprised of siliciclastic dominated sediments to the north, grading into a mixed siliciclastic-carbonate sediment composition at approximately the latitude of Ft. Lauderdale/Miami. Rapid population growth to the coast has impacted shelf habitats, including offshore reefsrecent observations of macro algae blooms off of Broward County shelf is suspected to be the result of nutrient rich submarine groundwater discharge of anthropogenic origin (runoff, wastewater point and non-point sources).