Recent morphology and sedimentary processes along the western slope of Great Bahama Bank (Bahamas)

Melanie Principaud, Thierry Mulder, Vincent Hanquiez, Emmanuelle Ducassou, Gregor P. Eberli, Ludivine Chabaud, Jean Borgomano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Carbonate slopes and associated resedimented deposits have recently gained renewed interest because they represent volumetrically significant parts of carbonate platforms. Carbonate slopes are highly variable compositionally, architecturally and spatially due to a spectrum of sediment sources, resedimentation processes and controlling factors. Here, new high resolution acoustic data (including EM302 multi-beam echo-sounder and very high resolution seismic) and piston cores document highly diverse and complex morphological features along the north-western slope of Great Bahama Bank. The recent morphology of the slope is the result of the interplay between depositional and erosive processes that vary through time and along strike. The different sedimentary processes are recorded as a Pleistocene lowstand surface, characterized by many erosional features and a Holocene sedimentary wedge along the upper to middle slope that partially covers the underlying Pleistocene surface. Sedimentary processes during the Holocene are dominated by density cascading flows, which export muddy aragonitic sediment from the platform top towards the slope. Sedimentation rates, however, vary along strike due to platform top morphology combined with the variable strength of the basinal current. Reefs and islands in the Bimini area block off-bank sediment export, and shoals and tidal deltas from Cat Cay to the south reduce the density cascading processes. Numerous small and large slope failure scars show the instability of the steep slopes of Great Bahama Bank. Bottom currents dominate the lower slope and the basin. Striations and moats are the morphological expressions of current directions, while areas of non-deposition document strong current and concomitant removal of off-bank transported sediment along parts of the slope, while the Santaren Drift and the drift on the north-western edge of Great Bahama Bank act as the depositional locus for the fine-grained sediments transported in the current.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2088-2116
Number of pages29
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Carbonate slope
  • Great Bahama Bank
  • echo character
  • sea floor morphology
  • sedimentary processes
  • seismic facies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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