Marine Science Faculty Publications

Halimeda Bioherms along an Open Seaway: Miskito Channel, Nicaraguan Rise, SW Caribbean Sea

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Carbonate Platform, Seismic Profile, Seismic Reflection, Halimeda, Bank Region

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A recent research cruise to examine small, detached carbonate platforms situated on the Nicaraguan Rise in the SW Caribbean Sea has revealed the presence of numerous Halimeda bioherms. Based upon interpretations from seismic reflection data some exceed 140 m in relief. This is the first documented occurrence of these green-algal buildups in the Caribbean/Bahama Bank region. The Halimeda bioherms form a nearly continuous band that borders the margins of the Miskito Channel-a shallow, open, 125 km long seaway. This 220 m deep channel bisects the Miskito Bank which is a major carbonate shelf. In seismic profile the bioherms appear acoustically "soft" and reveal a local relief of 20-30 m. Tops of these features lie in about 40-50 m of water. Samples from dredge hauls are coarse, poorly cemented packstones/grainstones which are dominated by largely unbroken, disarticulated Halimeda segments set in a poorly sorted sandy matrix. Exposed surfaces were stained brown. Very little living material was brought up in the dredges. The significance of these bioherms and their full extent in the Caribbean are not understood. Undoubtedly, further study will provide important answers concerning their role in the geologic development of Caribbean carbonate platforms.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Coral Reefs, v. 6, issue 3-4, p. 173-178