Sedimentary dynamics and high-frequency sequence stratigraphy of the southwestern slope of Great Bahama Bank

Marco Wunsch*, Christian Betzler, Gregor P. Eberli, Sebastian Lindhorst, Thomas Lüdmann, John J.G. Reijmer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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New geophysical data from the leeward slope of Great Bahama Bank show how contour currents shape the slope and induce re-sedimentation processes. Along slope segments with high current control, drift migration and current winnowing at the toe of slope form a deep moat. Here, the slope progradation is inhibited by large channel incisions and the accumulation of large mass transport complexes, triggered by current winnowing. In areas where the slope is bathed by weaker currents, the accumulation of mass transport complexes and channel incision is rather controlled by the position of the sea level. Large slope failures were triggered during the Mid-Pleistocene transition and Mid-Brunhes event, both periods characterized by changes in the cyclicity or the amplitude of sea-level fluctuations. Within the seismic stratigraphic framework of third order sequences, four sequences of higher order were identified in the succession of the upper Pleistocene. These higher order sequences also show clear differences in function of the slope exposure to contour currents. Two stochastic models emphasize the role of the contour currents and slope morphology in the facies distribution in the upper Pleistocene sequences. In areas of high current influence the interplay of erosional and depositional processes form a complex facies pattern with downslope and along strike facies alterations. In zones with lower current influence, major facies alternations occur predominately in downslope direction, and a layer-cake pattern characterizes the along strike direction. Therefore, this study highlights that contour currents are an underestimated driver for the sediment distribution and architecture of carbonate slopes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-117
Number of pages22
JournalSedimentary Geology
Early online date3 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Bahamas
  • Carbonate slopes
  • Contour currents
  • Facies modeling
  • Seismic stratigraphy
  • Slope morphology


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