Geophysical and sedimentological data collected on the central Virgin Islands insular shelf provide a unique opportunity to investigate carbonate shelf processes in an active tectonic environment. Although complicated by fluctuating sea level during the Quaternary, the sedimentological regimes have been controlled by the tectonic fragmentation of the region. South of St. John, a northeast-southwest intrusive ridge controlled the development of the shallow geology. Profiles across this region, seaward of the ridge, indicate the existence of a buried wave-cut platform. Resting on this eroded surface, at the shelf break, is a reef having a topographic relief of 55 m. This reef, which formed a protective barrier preserving a sequence of lagoonal deposits, has been radiometrically determined to have died ???7000 yrs B.P., coinciding with the death of similar reefs in Florida and on the Island of St. Croix. South of St. Thomas, the strata are horizontal and are bisected by east-west midshelf faults. Truncation of the shelf edge strata, northern drainage, and unconformities on the northern shelf indicate that this block was tilted to the north during the late Pleistocene. This limited reef development to a narrow zone on the southern shelf edge. Geochemical, biological and sedimentological data indicate that the early to mid-Holocene was a time of vigorous shelf sedimentation. This accumulation peaked and abruptly stopped ???1200 yrs B.P., due to continued subsidence. Since this time, most sediment accumulation has been limited to the immediate area around the islands. ?? 1985.
Additional publication details
Late Pleistocene-Holocene geology of the central Virgin Island Platform