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Origin and architecture of a Mass Transport Complex on the northwest slope of Little Bahama Bank (Bahamas): Relations between off-bank transport, bottom current sedimentation and submarine landslides
Tournadour, E.; Mulder, T.; Borgomano, J.; Hanquiez, V.; Ducassou, E.; Gillet, H. (2015). Origin and architecture of a Mass Transport Complex on the northwest slope of Little Bahama Bank (Bahamas): Relations between off-bank transport, bottom current sedimentation and submarine landslides. Sediment. Geol. 317: 9-26. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.sedgeo.2014.10.003
In: Sedimentary Geology. Elsevier: Tokyo; Oxford; New York; London; Amsterdam. ISSN 0037-0738; e-ISSN 1879-0968, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Carbonate slope systems; Bahamas; Mass Transport Complex (MTC); Contourite drift; Off-bank transport sedimentation

Authors  Top | Dataset 
  • Tournadour, E.
  • Mulder, T.
  • Borgomano, J.
  • Hanquiez, V.
  • Ducassou, E.
  • Gillet, H.

Abstract
    The analysis of the sedimentary dynamics of the carbonate slope of the northwest part of Little Bahama Bank (LBB, Bahamas) reveals a complex interaction between slope destabilisations, off-bank sediment export and longitudinal transport, the latter being driven by the Antilles and the Florida currents, at the northern end of the Florida Strait. Their combined action since the middle Miocene resulted in an extensional growth slope, previously called ‘LBB Drift’ (Mullins et al., 1980). Deposition within this extensional growth slope is dominated by either platform-derived downslope sedimentation or bottom current sedimentation. The latter induces the formation of a plastered drift, showing both upslope and downslope migrations, which do not correspond to the ‘LBB Drift’ as described by Mullins et al. (1980). Interestingly, a large submarine landslide affects the upper part of this plastered drift, and displays a complex and striking geomorphology on the seafloor. A new high-quality multibeam echosounder and seismic dataset allowed a detailed characterisation of the architecture of this Mass Transport Complex (MTC). A 44 km-long circular incision at 275 m and 460 m water depths, with a steep external edge (from 40 to 70 m high), forms the only present day evidence of this ancient MTC. It comprises confined Mass Transport Deposits (MTDs), which are delimited by frontal and lateral edges that developed inside the plastered drift. The top of this plastered drift is marked by a major erosional surface, most likely induced by an increase in oceanic current circulation. Channelised geometries, laterally associated with overspill deposits, developed within the depression induced by the MTC, and are an additional evidence of bottom current activity in this area. In addition, recent pockmarks are visible on the seafloor in front of the circular scarp of the MTC and probably relate to fluid escape, originating from the underlying MTDs' compressional area. All these features seen on the northwest slope of LBB bring new understanding on MTC sedimentary processes and associated morphologies in carbonate slope settings. Furthermore, this study highlights the interplay between off-bank transport, oceanic circulation and mass flow processes, which are seen as key processes in the shaping of Bahamian slopes and in their sedimentary dynamics.

Dataset
  • Global contourite distribution database, version 3, more

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