Original Article


, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 493-507

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Compositional variations in calciturbidites and calcidebrites in response to sea-level fluctuations (Exuma Sound, Bahamas)

  • John J. G. ReijmerAffiliated withFaculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Sedimentology and Marine Geology Division, VU University AmsterdamFaculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Department of Geotechnology, Delft University of Technology Email author 
  • , Pauline PalmieriAffiliated withLaboratoire de Géologie des Systèmes et des Réservoirs Carbonatés EA 4229, Case 67, Université de Provence (Aix-Marseille I)
  • , Ralph GroenAffiliated withFaculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Sedimentology and Marine Geology Division, VU University AmsterdamMærsk Olie og Gas A/S


The compositional variation of Pleistocene carbonate gravity deposits from the Exuma Sound Basin, Bahamas, was determined. Two types of gravity deposit were present in the cores of ODP Leg 101, Site 632A, i.e., calciturbidites and calcidebrites. In analogy with earlier studies, the compositional variations in the calciturbidites could be linked to different sources on the carbonate margin, i.e., platform interior, platform edge, and platform slope. Calciturbidites deposited during interglacial, sea-level highstands show a dominance of non-skeletal grains, largely derived from the platform interior, while calciturbidites of glacial, sea-level lowstands, show a dominance of skeletal platform-edge to platform-slope-derived grains. Thus, the calciturbidite composition can be used to reconstruct the position of absolute sea level. In addition, the mud content of the calciturbidites increased after Marine Isotope Stage 11. In contrast, the composition of the calcidebrites remained unaltered through time and showed a clear dominance of platform-edge-derived sediments during varying sea-level positions. The Bahamian carbonate platform is located in a tectonically stable passive-margin setting and the gravity-flow deposits were laid down in an environment exclusively controlled by eustatic sea-level fluctuations. This study shows that all types of gravity-induced carbonate deposits, calciturbidites, and calcidebrites, were deposited in response to global eustatic sea-level variations. The sediment composition could be linked directly to sediment input from specific facies realms along the carbonate platform margin. Hence, sediment composition analysis is a strong tool that may be used to discriminate between gravity-induced deposition triggered by eustatic sea-level changes and that related to tectonic events, when analyzing resedimentation processes in sedimentary basins.


Sediment gravity flows Calciturbidites Calcidebrites Sediment composition Bahamas Caribbean