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ABSTRACT: Setting of and Mixed Carbonate-Siliciclastic Facies Associated with Holocene Nearshore Sabellid Worm Reefs, Northern Belize

S. J. Mazzullo, C. D. Burke, R. K. Dunn, W. D. Bischoff

Communities of sabellid worms (Polychaeta) in northern Belize (mouth of Northern River Lagoon) occur as areally discontinuous, unlithified patch reefs cresting positive features on an irregular depositional topography of Holocene and older sediments. They are found in nearshore marine, moderate energy, tidally influenced environments (intertidal to 60-cm depths) of normal salinity (36^pmil) adjoining subtidal deposits. These colonies, as much as 30 cm thick, are composed of dense thickets of agglutinating worm tubes (1.0 mm diameter, 3.0 cm long) that trap and bind sand to silt-size bioclastic debris and micrite. Worm population density in these communities averages 30 tubes/cm2.

The antecedent depositional topography beneath the worm reefs and subjacent to adjoining Holocene deposits is characterized by ridges oriented normal to the present shoreline. These ridges are held up by pre-Holocene (latest Pleistocene?) terrigenous sands of probably fluvial distributary origin, occurring at approximately 2.0 m in the subsurface. The overlying Holocene deposits on these ridges are 2.0 m thick and consist of a general upward-coarsening section of terrigenous sandy, carbonate sandy muds to muddy sands punctuated

by mangrove peats and capped by the worm reefs. Low areas on the antecedent topography are presently the sites of deposition of deeper subtidal (1.0 m), muddy carbonate sands with some admixed, reworked terrigenous sand. The Holocene section records drowning due to recent (approximately 6 Ka) transgression of the older, lowstand distributary sands on the northern Belize shelf. This mixed carbonate-siliciclastic section and the worm reefs presently are being reshaped and modified by littoral processes.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91003©1990 AAPG Annual Convention, San Francisco, California, June 3-6, 1990