Date of this Version
Leg 101 of the Ocean Drilling Program drilled 19 holes at 11 sites to investigate the geology of the Straits of Florida and the northern Bahamas. Drilling at Site 626 indicated that the Gulf Stream has had significant flow through the Straits of Florida for at least the last 24 million years. Winnowed, foraminiferal grainstones and packstones with sparse nannofossil assemblages and the reworking of older nannofossils suggest strong bottom-current activity throughout this interval. Drilling north of Little Bahama Bank and in Exuma Sound documents the growth of platform slopes during the late Cenozoic. Nannofossil biostratigraphy of the upper Cenozoic sediments from the Little Bahama Bank and Exuma Sound slope transects indicates relatively continuous deposition, with only short breaks in the periplatform ooze and/or calciturbidite accumulation during the late Pliocene. These unconformities may be linked to sea-level lowstands. Nannofossil assemblages are generally poorly preserved owing to accelerated diagenesis caused by high aragonite and high magnesium calcite contents of bank-derived material. High rates of influx of bank-derived materials appear to coincide with highstands of sea level.
Periplatform sediments are largely limited to the upper Cenozoic at Little Bahama Bank. Pelagic and/or hemipelagic conditions existed during the Late Cretaceous and Paleogene. A relatively complete, continuous section of Oligocene is present in the Little Bahama Bank area, although the rest of the Paleogene is thin. Paleogene material is also present in Northeast Providence Channel, although its thickness is uncertain. A thick upper Campanian chalk sequence with abundant, moderately to well-preserved nannofossils occurs in the Little Bahama Bank area. Hemipelagic nannofossil marls and marly chalks at Little Bahama Bank contain an excellent nannofossil record, which indicates a continuous lowermost to middle Cenomanian sequence overlying the upper Albian drowned platform. These hemipelagic sediments are significantly younger than the organic-rich, middle Albian limestones in Northeast Providence Channel. The latter indicate that a deep-water channel was already well established by the middle Albian.