Sea-level, storms, and sedimentation – Controls on the architecture of the Andros tidal flats (Great Bahama Bank)

Mingyue Wu, Paul (Mitch) Harris, Gregor Eberli, Sam J. Purkis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Integrated time-separated remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), microbiology, and carbonate sedimentology of the tidal-flat portion of Andros Island (Great Bahama Bank) quantify the geomorphologic change of tidal-flat facies through time and illustrate how sea-level rise, among other controls, is recorded within these deposits. In the 75 years spanned by the remote-sensing datasets, sea level has risen by approximately 10 cm. In the face of this change: a) the seaward margin of the tidal flats has remained static, while b) the internal boundary, which separates the channelized and supratidal marsh deposits, retrograded up to 220 m, broadening the channelized zone, and c) in unison to the broadening of the channelized zone, the abundance of laminated (Scytonema) cyanobacterial fabrics decreased, d) accompanied by the lengthening and avulsion of the network of tidal channels that traverse this zone. Given the amount of sea level rise during the period of observation, such broad-scale restructuring of the Andros tidal-flat architecture is surprising. The muddy tidal flats did not prograde, but instead aggraded and locally retrograded. Whereas retrogradation was minimal at the coastline, the channelized zone retrograded substantially over the more landward supratidal inland marsh. These results question aspects of the autocyclic model for the development of peritidal carbonate cycles, which is underpinned by a dominant behavior of tidal-flat progradation. Whereas other controls cannot be explicitly excluded, sea-level oscillations seemingly exerted considerably more impact on the Andros tidal flat in the last decades than did major storm events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105932
JournalSedimentary Geology
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Andros Island
  • Bahamas
  • Carbonate tidal flats
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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