Drilling near the deformation front of the northern Barbados Ridge cored an accretionary prism consisting of imbricately thrusted Neogene hemipelagic sediments detached from little-deformed Oligocene to Campanian underthrust deposits by a décollement zone composed of lower Miocene to upper Oligocene, scaly radiolarian claystone. Biostrati-graphically defined age inversions define thrust faults in the accretionary prism that correlate between sites and are apparent on the seismic reflection sections. Two sites located 12 and 17 km west of the deformation front document continuing deformation of the accreted sediments during their uplift. Deformational features include both large- and small-scale folding and continued thrust faulting with the development of stratal disruption, cataclastic shear zones, and the proliferation of scaly fabrics. These features, resembling structures of accretionary complexes exposed on land, have developed in sediments never buried more than 400 m and retaining 40% to 50% porosity. A single oceanic reference site, located 6 km east of the deformation front, shows incipient deformation at the stratigraphic level of the décollement and pore-water chemistry anomalies both at the décollement level and in a subjacent permeable sand interval.
Pore-water chemistry data from all sites define two fluid realms: one characterized by methane and chloride anomalies and located within and below the décollement zone and a second marked solely by chloride anomalies and occurring within the accretionary prism. The thermogenic methane in the décollement zone requires fluid transport many tens of kilometers arcward of the deformation front along the shallowly inclined décollement surface, with minimal leakage into the overlying accretionary prism. Chloride anomalies along faults and a permeable sand layer in the underthrust sequence may be caused by membrane filtration or smectite dewatering at depth. Low matrix permeability requires that fluid flow along faults occurs through fracture permeability. Temperature and geochemical data suggest that episodic fluid flow occurs along faults, probably as a result of deformational pumping.