Depositional patterns and sedimentary processes influencing modern southwest Florida carbonate slope development have been identified based upon slope morphology, seismic facies and surface sediment characteristics. Three slope-parallel zones have been identified: (1) an upper slope progradational zone (100-500 m) characterized by seaward-trending progradational clinoforms and sediments rich in shelf-derived carbonate material, (2) a lower gullied slope zone (500-800 m) characterized by numerous gullies formed by the downslope transport of gravity flows, and (3) a base-of-slope zone (> 800 m) characterized by thin, lens-shaped gravity flow deposits and irregular topography interpreted to be the result of bottom currents and slope failure along the basal extensions of gullies. Modern slope development is interpreted to have been controlled by the offshelf transport of shallow-water material from the adjacent west Florida shelf, deposition of this material along a seaward advancing sediment front, and intermittent bypassing of the lower slope by sediments transported in the form of gravity flows via gullies. Sediments are transported offshelf by a combination of tides and the Loop Current, augmented by the passage of storm frontal systems. Winter storm fronts produce cold, dense, sediment-laden water that cascades offshelf beneath the strong, eastward flowing Florida Current. Sediments are eventually deposited in a relatively low energy transition zone between the Florida Current on the surface and a deep westward flowing counter current. The influence of the Florida Current is evident in the easternmost part of the study area as eastward prograding sediments form a sediment drift that is progressively burying the Pourtales Terrace. The modern southwest Florida slope has seismic reflection and sedimentological characteristics in common with slopes bordering both the non-rimmed west Florida margin and the rimmed platform of the northern Bahamas, and shows many similarities to the progradational Miocene section along the west Florida slope. As with rimmed platform slopes, development of non-rimmed platform slopes can be complex and controlled by a combination of processes that result in a variety of configurations. Consequently, the distinction between the two slope types based solely upon seismic and sedimentological characteristics may not be readily discernible. ?? 1990.
Additional publication details
Modern configuration of the southwest Florida carbonate slope: Development by shelf margin progradation