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An extinct, > 5000-km-long Jurassic carbonate platform and barrier reef system lies buried beneath the Atlantic continental shelf and slope of the United States. A revised stratigraphic framework, a series of regional isopach maps, and paleogeographic reconstructions are used to illustrate the 42-m.y. history of this Bahama-Grand Banks gigaplatform from its inception in Aalenian(?) (early Middle Jurassic) time to its demise and burial in Berriasian-Valanginian time (early Early Cretaceous). Aggradation-progradation rates for the gigaplatform are comparable to those of the familiar Capitan shelf margin (Permian) and are closely correlated with volumetric rates of siliciclastic sediment accumulation and depocenter migration. Siliciclastic encroachment behind the carbonate tracts appears to have been an important impetus for shelf-edge progradation. During the Early Cretaceous, sea-level changes combined with eutrophication (due to landward soil development and seaward upwelling) and the presence of cooler upwelled waters along the outer shelf appear to have decimated the carbonate producers from the Carolina Trough to the Grand Banks. This allowed advancing siliciclastic deltas to overrun the shelf edge despite a notable reduction in siliciclastic accumulation rates. However, upwelling did not extend southward to the Blake-Bahama megabank, so platform carbonate production proceeded there well into the Cretaceous. Subsequent stepwise carbonate abatement characterized the Blake Plateau Basin, whereas the Bahamas have maintained production to the present. The demise of carbonate production on the northern segments of the gigaplatform helped to escalate deep-water carbonate deposition in the Early Cretaceous, but the sudden augmentation of deep-water carbonate reservoirs in the Late Jurassic was triggered by other agents, such as global expansion of nannoplankton communities. ?? 1991.
Additional Publication Details
Rise and demise of the Bahama-Grand Banks gigaplatform, northern margin of the Jurassic proto-Atlantic seaway