NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Canaveral National Seashore, Florida

Geodiversity refers to the full variety of natural geologic (rocks, minerals, sediments, fossils, landforms, and physical processes) and soil resources and processes that occur in the park. A product of the Geologic Resources Inventory, the NPS Geodiversity Atlas delivers information in support of education, Geoconservation, and integrated management of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the ecosystem.

ramp to sandy beach and ocean waves
Playalinda Beach in Canaveral National Seashore, Florida.


Canaveral National Seashore (CANA) is located along Florida’s east central coast between New Smyrna Beach and the John F. Kennedy Space Center in southeast Volusia and northeast Brevard Counties. Established on January 3, 1975, CANA encompasses about 23,335 hectares (57,662 acres) and protects a 39 km (24 mi)-long stretch of barrier island ecosystem composed of beach, dune, marsh, and lagoon habitats (National Park Service 2016a). CANA is a series of three beaches (Playalinda Beach, Klondike Beach, and Apollo Beach) that form the longest stretch of undeveloped beach along the eastern coast of Florida (National Park Service 2015). Mosquito Lagoon, part of the larger Indian River Lagoon system, makes up approximately two-thirds of CANA and has been designated an aquatic preserve by the state of Florida because of its rich biological and scientific resources. The Indian River Lagoon system is considered the most species-rich estuary in North America, designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an estuary of national significance. CANA hosts more than a dozen threatened and endangered wildlife species as well as other special status species, and is home to the largest number of sea turtle nests of any national park unit, with more than 8,000 nests annually. Archeological resources in CANA record a history of human occupation in the Florida Peninsula from 4,000 years ago to the early 20th century, and include more than 180 Native American burial mounds, shell mounds, historic buildings, structures, and ruins. The highest point in CANA is Turtle Mound, a 10 m (35 ft)-high mound of oyster shells constructed by native peoples between 800 and 1400 AD (National Park Service 2015).

Geologic Setting

The geology underlying CANA is relatively young, consisting of Quaternary-age sediments that are constantly shaped and modified by coastal processes. The modern barrier island complex at CANA has been heavily influenced by cyclical sea level changes that occurred throughout the Pleistocene and into the present (Colquhoun 1969; Richards et al. 1971). Surficial units mapped at CANA include deposits of the Pleistocene Anastasia Formation, Quaternary beach ridge and dune sediments, and Holocene sediments deposited in beach, swamp, dune, and shallow marine environments. The Anastasia Formation is the only formally named geologic unit in CANA. It was originally deposited in ancient beach and shallow marine environments where sand grains and shell fragments cemented together to form a sedimentary rock called “coquina”. Coquina of the Anastasia Formation was utilized as building material in the construction of Fort Matanzas at FOMA, located north of CANA. Exposures of the Anastasia Formation underlie the area of CANA west of Mosquito Lagoon and north of Merritt Island (Scott et al. 2001).

Regional Geology

Canaveral National Seashore is a part of the Floridian Section of the Coastal Plain Physiographic Province and shares its geologic history and some characteristic geologic formations with a region that extends well beyond park boundaries.

Maps and Reports

The Geologic Resources Inventory produces digital geologic maps and reports for more than 270 natural resource parks. The products listed below are currently available for this park, check back often for updates as many maps, reports, and posters are still in progress.
  • Scoping summaries are records of scoping meetings where NPS staff and local geologists determined the park’s geologic mapping plan and what content should be included in the report.
  • Digital geologic maps include files for viewing in GIS software, a guide to using the data, and a document with ancillary map information. Newer products also include data viewable in Google Earth and online map services.
  • Reports use the maps to discuss the park’s setting and significance, notable geologic features and processes, geologic resource management issues, and geologic history.
  • Posters are a static view of the GIS data in PDF format. Newer posters include aerial imagery or shaded relief and other park information. They are also included with the reports.
  • Projects list basic information about the program and all products available for a park.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 2759. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

NPS Soil Resources Inventory project has been completed for Canaveral National Seashore and can be found on the NPS Data Store.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 2741. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Related Articles

Canaveral National Seashore

National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas

The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on geoheritage and geodiversity resources and values within the National Park System. This information supports science-based geoconservation and interpretation in the NPS, as well as STEM education in schools, museums, and field camps. The NPS Geologic Resources Division and many parks work with National and International geoconservation communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available.

Canaveral National Seashore

Last updated: June 14, 2024