Sedimentation cycles and their diagenesis on the slope of a Miocene carbonate ramp (Bahamas, ODP Leg 166)

L. Reuning, J. J.G. Reijmer*, Chr Betzler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Numerous small-scale depositional cycles are present in the Miocene sediments of seismic sequence m along the margin of Great Bahama Bank (ODP Leg 166). These cycles consist of decimetre- to metre-scale alternations between light-grey and dark-grey/black wackestones/packstones. The light-grey layers are well cemented and nearly uncompacted. They contain planktonic and benthic foraminifera, and bioclasts. Bioturbation in these layers is moderate. The dark-grey wackestones/packstones are uncemented, strongly compacted and normally strongly bioturbated. The main components are planktonic foraminifera and fine-grained bioclasts. The dark layers are rich in aragonite and organic carbon and contain around 80% carbonate. The light layers show low aragonite and organic carbon contents combined with carbonate values of up to 97.5%. Light δ13C and slightly negative δ18O values were observed in the dark uncemented layers while the cemented intervals show heavy δ13C values and slightly more positive δ18O values. The carbon isotope signal between the dark and the light layers shows variations of up to 1.45‰. Both δ13C and δ18O co-vary with carbonate content. The Formation MicroScanner images reflect the changes in carbonate mineralogy. The Natural Gamma-Ray Tool shows that variations in siliciclastic content of the examined succession displays a different frequency than the cyclic alternations in carbonate mineralogy. The internal stacking pattern of the cycles is closely tied to sea level. The dark layers are deposited during rising sea level, while the light layers reflect sediment production and export during highstand and falling sea level. These cycles thus represent a rather continuous sediment shedding pattern that is clearly related to the ramp morphology and differs from the highstand shedding pattern typical for rimmed flat-topped platforms. Most measured parameters suggest that primary sediment composition played an important role in the cementation process. The primary differences in composition were enhanced during shallow burial diagenesis. The initially high content of metastable carbonate phases in the periplatform sediments triggered rapid cementation of the primary aragonite-rich layers leading to the formation of the light beds. Dissolution of metastable high-Mg calcite and aragonite was followed by in situ precipitation of more stable dolomite and calcite. Diagenesis was enhanced by the coarse grain size of the primary aragonite-rich layers. In contrast the more pelagic, dark calcite-rich layers were only slightly affected by diagenesis and could preserve their aragonite content. The uncemented layers subsequently were subject to strong mechanical compaction, whereas the cemented beds stayed nearly uncompacted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-142
Number of pages22
JournalMarine Geology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2002


  • Bahamas
  • Carbonate ramp
  • Carbonate slopes
  • Cyclicity
  • Diagenesis
  • Miocene
  • Sedimentation patterns


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