Abstract

A SeaMARC II and seismic reflection investigation of the deep-water margins of carbonate banks in the southeast Bahamas has documented the retreat of these isolated platforms since mid-Cretaceous time. This retreat is in sharp contrast to prograding carbonate platforms in the passive northwest Bahamas and provides an initial framework within which to view the response of carbonate platforms to tectonic processes. Processes of retreat include large-scale (50-60 km) step-back of platform margins during the mid-Cretaceous; tectonic subsidence and downfaulting during the late Tertiary; and large-scale collapse of platform margins, which may be an active process. Step-back during the mid-Cretaceous correlates with a global tectonic pulse of ocean-crust formation and relative sea-level rise; downfaulting may be a response to either late Tertiary lithospheric bending during subduction and/or block rotation along the North American-Caribbean plate boundary; and collapse may be related to earthquake shocks generated by active plate-tectonic collision between the southeast Bahamas and Hispaniola.

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