Karin H. Bernet,2, 4 Gregor P. Eberli,2 and Adrian Gilli3


The lower slope and toe-of-slope sediments of the western flank of the Great Bahama Bank (Sites 1003 and 1007) are characterized by an intercalation of turbidites and periplatform ooze. In general, turbidites form up to 12% of the total mass of the sedimentary column. Based primarily on data from the Bahamas, it has been postulated that steep-sided carbonate platforms shed most of their sediments into the basin during sea-level highstands when the platforms are flooded. This highstand shedding is assumed to be less pronounced along platforms with a ramp-like depositional profile where sediment production is not restricted to sea-level highstand. Miocene to Pliocene sediments recovered in five drill holes during Leg 166 at the western margin of the Great Bahama Bank reveal that turbidite distribution follows a complex pattern that is dependent on several factors such as sedimentation rates, sea-level changes, and slope morphology.

To identify the depositional sequences in the cores, the depths of seismic-sequence boundaries were used. The distribution of turbidites within sedimentary sequences varies strongly. Generally, turbidites are clustered at the upper and/or lower portions of the sequences indicating deposition of carbonate turbidites during both highstand and lowstand of sea level. Analyses of the Miocene turbidites show that (1) during high sea level, 60% of all turbidites were deposited at Site 1003 (309 out of 518 turbidites), while during low sea level, two thirds of all turbidites were deposited at Site 1007 (332 out of 486 turbidites); (2) the average thickness of highstand turbidites is 1.5 times higher than the average thickness of lowstand turbidites; and (3) the turbidites display slight differences in composition and sorting. In general, highstand turbidites are less sorted and contain an abundant amount of shallow-water constituents such as green algae, red algae, shallow-water benthic foraminifers (miliolids), and intraclasts. The lowstand turbidites are better sorted and contain abundant planktonic foraminifers and micrite.

To complicate matters, highstand and lowstand turbidites seem to be deposited at different locations on the slope. At the lower slope (Site 1003), more turbidites were deposited during highstands, while at the toe of the slope, turbidites were dominantly deposited during sea-level lowstands. The result is a slope section with laterally discontinuous turbidite lenses within periplatform ooze, which is controlled by the interplay of sea-level changes, sediment production, and platform morphology.

1 Swart, P.K., Eberli, G.P., Malone, M.J., and Sarg, J.F. (Eds.), 2000. Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 166 [Online]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www-odp.tamu.edu/publications/166_SR/166TOC.HTM>. [Cited YYYY-MM-DD]
2 Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Comparative Sedimentology Laboratory, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, University of Miami, Miami FL 33149, USA.
3 Geologisches Institut ETHZ, Sonnegstrasse 5, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland.
4 Present address: Rottmanssbodenstrasse 133, CH - 4102 Binningen, Switzerland. khbernet@pop.bluewin.ch

Date of initial receipt: 10 August 1998
Date of acceptance: 12 February 1999
Ms 166SR-112