Benthic and planktic foraminifera and calcareous nannofossils were recovered in shallow-water carbonate rock cores from two continuous boreholes drilled 7.5 km apart on the west platform margin of the Great Bahama Bank. The microfossils define six biostratigraphic units in each hole. One unit in each hole represents a correlative condensed section. Seven foraminiferal biozones are recognized in 11 of the units between the holes: middle Miocene Globorotalia fohsi robusta Zone N12, late Miocene G. acostaensis Zone N16 and G. humerosa Zone N17, early Pliocene G. margaritae evoluta Subzone N19, late Pliocene G. exilis Subzone N21 and, tentatively, G. tosaensis tosaensis Zone N21, and early Pleistocene G. crassaformis viola Subzone N22. The twelfth unit is inferred to be of G. crassaformis viola Subzone N22 age. The oldest unit is onshore, the youngest is offshore. As presently interpreted, the nannofossil and foraminiferal zonations are partially correlative. Although the microfossils unequivocally constrain the series ages of the sediments, the incompleteness of the fossil record allows for alternative biozonal age models within the series. The Miocene and Pliocene biozones are common to both holes, but the greatest similarities between the holes are the significant mixing of middle and late Miocene, and late Miocene-early Pliocene faunas, the greatly condensed intervals at the Miocene/Pliocene boundary, and the early Pliocene influx of deep-water benthic and pelagic foraminifera. Of particular importance is the tentative recognition of late Pliocene G. tosaensis tosaensis Zone N21 in one borehole. Subsequent data not available to this phase of the study indicate that much of the zone is likely missing. Its absence will lend support to speculations of a regional unconformity in the Bahamas. The microfossils indicate that (1) several transgressions occurred from the middle Miocene to at least the earliest Pleistocene (> 11.5-> 0.46 Ma), during which banktop-derived sediments accumulating at the margin prograded the platform seaward; (2) a condensed interval on the bank top may represent a late Miocene lowstand, a period of sediment bypassing, or a lack of accommodation space; (3) the slope received thin layers of pelagic sediments in a condensed interval during the late Miocene and early Pliocene, while the bank top accommodated early Pliocene (4.2-3.4 Ma) deep-water indicators prior to a likely period of exposure (2.35 - 1.89 Ma); (4) two cycles of banktop sediment production and starvation occurred during the Pliocene; (5) the Pliocene transgression was punctuated by stillstands or low-amplitude reversals during which parts of biozones did not accumulate; and (6) the sediments containing the most complete microfossil-datum record are the thin pelagic strata that mark interruptions in the regular shedding of transgressive deposits from the platform. Sedimentation-rate patterns varied but were generally higher offshore than onshore. ?? 1994.
Additional Publication Details
Microfossil biostratigraphy of prograding Neogene platform-margin carbonates, Bahamas: Age constraints and alternatives