, Volume 100, Issue 8, pp 1875-1893,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 04 Jan 2011

Whiting-related sediment export along the Middle Miocene carbonate ramp of Great Bahama Bank


Modern aragonite needles are present all along the modern leeward margin of Great Bahama Bank (ODP Leg 166), while Middle Miocene sediments contain needles only in more distal areas (Sites 1006 and 1007). In contrast to the rimmed, flat-topped platform topography during the Plio-Pleistocene, the Miocene Great Bahama Bank morphology is a carbonate ramp profile. This might imply a different location and precipitation type for Miocene aragonite needles. In this study, aragonite needles in Miocene sediments were isolated using a granulometric separation method. Furthermore, the isolation of the various carbonate components enables the identification of primary versus diagenetic components. The Miocene aragonite needles are concentrated in the finest granulometric sediment fractions (<12 μm). The fraction-specific geochemical analyses (δ13C, δ18O and Sr elemental abundance) represent useful tools to assess the possible sources of the aragonite mud. The geochemical variation of the fractions, rich in pristine aragonite needles, and the characteristics of the needle morphology point to whiting phenomena as the main sediment source and algal fragmentation as a minor component. Both components indicate shallow-water environments as the main sediment source area. Ramp-top-related fine-grained particles now present at distal sites were likely exported as suspended material similar to present-day transport mechanisms. The scarcity of needles at proximal sites is probably linked to hydrodynamic processes but dissolution and recrystallization processes cannot be excluded. The granulometric separation approach applied here enables a better characterization of the finest carbonate particles representing an important step towards the discrimination between primary and diagenetic fine-grained components.