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ABSTRACT

Balancing the sediment budget of the Atlantic shoreline of Long Island has proved to be problematic because more sediment has been found to be moving westward in littoral drift than was estimated to be supplied by wave erosion of the Ronkonkoma terminal moraine at Montauk Point. There is a need for the existence of an additional, possibly offshore source. As part of a larger Atlantic shore study, 11 beach samples from Fire Island were compared with samples representing the known glacial source at Montauk Point, and also with four offshore samples to the south. Comparisons were based upon quartz sand grain surface texture patterns derived by scanning electron microscope checklist analysis. Initial evidence of an offshore-onshore link was provided by qualitative results examining surface texture variability between samples, illustrated by photographic evidence and written notes. This evidence was confirmed consistently during quantitative analysis. In particular, canonical variate analysis grouped two offshore samples representing deposits of buried glacial to fluvioglacial lobes with beach samples from Fire Island in adjacent onshore locations or slightly downdrift. In addition, canonical variate analysis and factor analysis using the spssx package, together with cluster analysis using the ARTHUR package, depicted the main factors and texture variables largely responsible for sample discrimination. The significance of both the offshore-onshore link and the associated factors influencing quartz grain surface texture was revealed by the fact that they are strongly related to each other and to the regional geomorphology.