The innermost shelf off Sarasota, Florida was mapped using sidescan-sonar imagery, seismic-reflection profiles, surface sediment samples, and short cores to define the transition between an onshore siliciclastic sand province and an offshore carbonate province and to identify the processes controlling the distribution of these distinctive facies. The transition between these facies is abrupt and closely tied to the morphology of the inner shelf. A series of low-relief nearly shore-normal ridges characterize the inner shelf. Stratigraphically, the ridges are separated from the underlying Pleistocene and Tertiary carbonate strata by the Holocene ravinement surface. While surficial sediment is fine to very-fine siliciclastic sand on the southeastern sides of the ridges and shell hash covers their northwestern sides, the cores of these Holocene deposits are a mixture of both of these facies. Along the southeastern edges of the ridges the facies boundary coincides with the discontinuity that separates the ridge deposits from the underlying strata. The transition from siliciclastic to carbonate sediment on the northwestern sides of the ridges is equally abrupt, but it falls along the crests of the ridges rather than at their edges. Here the facies transition lies within the Holocene deposit, and appears to be the result of sediment reworking by modern processes. This facies distribution primarily appears to result from south-flowing currents generated during winter storms that winnow the fine siliciclastic sediment from the troughs and steeper northwestern sides of the ridges. A coarse shell lag is left armoring the steeper northwestern sides of the ridges, and the fine sediment is deposited on the gentler southeastern sides of the ridges. This pronounced partitioning of the surficial sediment appears to be the result of the siliciclastic sand being winnowed and transported by these currents while the carbonate shell hash falls below the threshold of sediment movement and is left as a lag. The resulting facies boundaries on this low-energy, sediment-starved inner continental shelf are of two origins which both are tied to the remarkably subtle ridge morphology. Along the southeastern sides of the ridges the facies boundary coincides with a stratigraphic discontinuity that separates Holocene from the older deposits while the transition along the northwestern sides of the ridges is within the Holocene deposit and is the result of sediment redistribution by modern processes. ?? 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Sand ridges off Sarasota, Florida: A complex facies boundary on a low-energy inner shelf environment