Carbonate slope morphology revealing a giant submarine canyon (Little Bahama Bank, Bahamas)

T. Mulder, H. Gillet, V. Hanquiez, E. Ducassou, K. Fauquembergue, M. Principaud, G. Conesa, J. Le Goff, J. Ragusa, S. Bashah, S. Bujan, J. J.G. Reijmer, T. Cavailhes, A. W. Droxler, D. G. Blank, L. Guiastrennec, N. Fabregas, A. Recouvreur, C. Seibert

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New high-quality multibeam data detail the morphology of the giant 135-km-long Great Abaco Canyon (GAC) located between Little Bahama Bank (LBB, Bahamas) and Blake Plateau. Knickpoints, chutes, and plunge pools mark the canyon main axis, which is parallel to the LBB margin. The canyon head covers a large area but does not represent the main source of the modern sediments. The material supplied through the LBB canyon systems originates below this head, which only shows erosive lineaments related to the pathway of currents running along the seafloor and restricted failure scars. Most of the sediment supply originates from the canyon sides. The northern canyon flank incises the Blake Plateau, which comprises contourites on top of a drowned Cretaceous carbonate platform. These deposits are susceptible to translational slides and form dissymmetric debris accumulations along the northern edge of the canyon. A large tributary drains the Blake Plateau. Two large tributaries connecting the southern flank of the GAC directly to the LBB upper slope form additional sources of sediments. Subbottom profiles suggest the presence of a sedimentary levee on the tributary canyon and of sediment gravity flow deposits. The GAC has been a permanent structure since the drowning of the Cretaceous platform, and its size and morphology are comparable to those of canyons in siliciclastic environments. The orientation of the GAC parallel to large-scale regional tectonic structures suggests a structural control. The size of the observed structures, especially plunge pools at the base of gigantic chutes, is unusual on Earth. The presence of deposits downflow of the pools suggests that the GAC results from or at least is maintained by persistent and sustained submarine gravity flows rather than by retrogressive erosion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-34
Number of pages4
Issue number1
Early online date29 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


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