Recent Carbonate Slope Development on Southwest Florida Continental Margin
Gregg R. Brooks, Charles W. Holmes
The southwest Florida continental slope bordering the Florida Strait contains a thick sequence of seaward-prograding sediments. Sediments consist principally of a mixture of shallow water and pelagic carbonate sands and muds deposited rapidly on the upper slope. Sedimentary patterns are interpreted to be a function of high-frequency sea level fluctuations. Most vigorous off-shelf transport and highest sedimentation rates (exceeding 2.5 m/1,000 years) occur during early transgressions and late regressions when water depths on the shelf are shallow. During sea level highstands, off-shelf transport is less vigorous and sedimentation rates decrease. During sea level lowstands, no off-shelf transport takes place and erosion of the previously deposited sequence occurs as a resu t of an increase in erosional capacity of the Florida Current. The presence of at least nine such sequences, all with similar characteristics, indicates that these processes have been occurring since at least the late Pleistocene in response to high-frequency glacial fluctuations.
The location of the southwest Florida slope between the rimmed Bahama platform and the nonrimmed remainder of the west Florida margin, as well as similarities with ancient carbonate slope deposits formed during periods when shelf-edge reef-forming organisms were lacking, suggest that depositional patterns on the southwest Florida slope may be indicative of a transition between rimmed and nonrimmed carbonate platform environments. The southwest Florida slope may provide a valuable modern analog for identifying similar transitional environments in the geologic record.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91038©1987 AAPG Annual Convention, Los Angeles, California, June 7-10, 1987.