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Evidence for carbonate platform failure during rapid sea-level rise; ca 14000 year old bioclastic flow deposits in the Lesser Antilles

Blackwell Publishing
Publication Date
  • Ge Environmental Sciences


Bioclastic flow deposits offshore from the Soufrie`re Hills volcano on Montserrat in the Lesser Antilles were deposited by the largest volume sediment flows near this active volcano in the last 26 kyr. The volume of these deposits exceeds that of the largest historic volcanic dome collapse in the world, which occurred on Montserrat in 2003. These flows were most probably generated by a large submarine slope failure of the carbonate shelf comprising the south-west flank of Antigua or the east flank of Redonda; adjacent islands that are not volcanically active. The bioclastic flow deposits are relatively coarse-grained and either ungraded or poorly graded, and were deposited by non-cohesive debris flow and high density turbidity currents. The bioclastic deposit often comprises multiple sub-units that cannot be correlated between core sites; some located just 2 km apart. Multiple sub-units in the bioclastic deposit result from either flow reflection, stacking of multiple debris flow lobes, and/or multi-stage collapse of the initial landslide. This study provides unusually precise constraints on the age of this mass flow event that occurred at ca 14 ka. Few large submarine landslides have been well dated, but the slope failures that have been dated are commonly associated with periods of rapid sea-level change.

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