Abstract

Mud layers have been found within the ooid sands of Joulters Cays and Lee Stocking Island, Bahamas. A 1.3-m vibracore extracted from 4 m water depth in the Lee Stocking tidal channel contains a lower unit of dark brown muddy sand (skeletal rich) overlain by two layers of ooid sands intercalated with two layers of creamy, white mud. The two upper mud layers are aragonite-rich, sometimes pelleted, and contain very few skeletal grains. The contacts between the ooid sands and mud layers are commonly sharp, but some contacts show evidence of burrowing and mud clast formation. A mud layer with similar textural, mineralogic and petrographic characteristics was recovered from a 16-cm core from a tidal channel on Joulters Cays, Bahamas. This mud layer was also enclosed within ooid sands. Mud in the Lee Stocking ooid tidal channel is apparently of two origins. Mud in the lower unit of the core contains a more equal distribution of aragonite and calcite ( nearly equal 50% each) and abundant skeletal grains of normal marine origin, indicating that the lower unit is lagoonal. Mud that is interlayered with ooid sands in the same core is dominated by aragonite ( nearly equal 80%) and contains little sand-sized material, suggesting that it is not a typical lagoon mud. SEM examination also confirms that this mud is quite different from the lagoonal mud found at the base of the core. C-14 dating of the mud from the lagoonal unit shows that this sediment was deposited in water depths of 2 to 3 m approximately 5000 years ago when sea level was 3 m lower than present. C-14 dating coupled with knowledge of Holocene sea level indicates that both the ooid sands and the mud layers were also deposited as subtidal sediments. The mechanism by which the mud layers are accumulated with ooid sands is problematic. Suspension by storms and transport to tidal channels is one possibility; however, evaluation of the data suggests an alternative explanation. The post-lagoon history of deposition of the tidal channel may include nearly continuous restriction during which mud layers were deposited. The restriction was possibly caused by the formation and maintenance of ooid sand barriers. Ooid sand deposition and burial of these layers may have accompanied barrier destruction.

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