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Shallow and Deep-Water Carbonates

For our research in shallow and deep-water carbonates we have and

will receive very unique core material with which we can investigate depositional

environments that are rarely recovered in cores. The first set of cores was retrieved in 2020

from a rift setting in the northern Red Sea from a brine pool and from abyssal microbialites

during the course of the OceanX ‘Deep Blue’ cruise. The second set of cores is from the

windward margin in the Exumas, where cuttings from two disposal wells contain the deepest

record of this complex windward margin. This latter material, in conjunction with shallow

cores, will help to decipher the heterogeneity of the high-energy platform margin. A precious

set of cores from offshore Mozambique, drilled through a fringing reef that grew during

the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and drowned during the first meltwater pulse, will be shipped

to the CSL for a multiyear study. The international Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) has with

large costs retrieved cores through such lowstand reefs offshore the Great Barrier Reef and

in Tahiti. The core recovery from offshore Mozambique is better than their

efforts and thus allows us to address a whole series of scientific questions.


A second approach in our research in understanding carbonate

depositional systems is modeling. This year, we have two projects; one addresses the

processes of off-bank transport and the other self-organization of the depositional



Carbonate contourite depositional systems. As a result of our multiyear research effort

we can now assemble an atlas of carbonate contourite drifts, which is a data base of modern

and ancient drift systems. Two other projects explore the relationship between slope curvature

and evolution as a result of current activity along the slope.

Current Projects

Rift Carbonates, Brine Pools, and Deep Sea Microbialites in the Red Sea – Part II


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Investigators: Sam J. Purkis, Morgan Chakraborty, Amanda Oehlert, and Peter K. Swart

Project Objectives

  • To characterize rift basin carbonates in an active maritime rift setting.
  • To analyze a new suit of cores acquired in 2022 from the NEOM Brine Pool (Gulf of Aqaba) to evaluate the formation of deep-sea extremophile microbial mat-forming communities.



Over the Edge: Linking On-Platform Processes to Off-Platform Deposition on Great Bahama Bank


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Investigators: Cecilia Lopez-Gamundi, Amanda Oehlert, Paul (Mitch) Harris, Gregor P. Eberli, and Sam Purkis

Project Objectives

  • Conduct a sediment budget analysis of the Great Bahama Bank (GBB).

  • Sesimically quantify volumes of Holocene sediment along GBB’s slopes.

  • Reconcile off-platform deposits with platform-top sediment production and resuspension volumes to estimate sediment export.



Stratigraphy and Diagenesis of the Exumas Windward Margin at Bell Island, Bahamas


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Investigators: Brandon Navarro, Gregor P. Eberli, Donald F. McNeil, and Kelly L. Jackson

Project Objectives:

  • To decipher the stratigraphy of the windward margin along the Exuma Sound from cuttings of two disposal wells.

  • Determine the facies and the ages of the sediments deposited during the last interglacial (MIS 5e; 128 – 115 kyrs).
  • Investigate diagenetic and mineralogical changes of dolomite-limestone alternations observed in the deep wells.


South Joulter Cay, Great Bahama Bank - A Geo-Archive of Climate Change and Sea-level Variation?


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Investigators: Mara R. Diaz and Gregor P. Eberli

Project Objectives:

  • Further calibrate the timing of key depositional events within the history of SJC with radiometric dating of select beach ridges.

  • Thereby test to what extent island growth is the result of variations in storm frequency and/or sea level during the Holocene.


Mozambique Shelf Cores – Research Initiative


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Investigators: Gregor P. Eberli, Ricardo Argiolis, Iva Tomchovska, Ralf J. Weger, James Klaus, Peter K. Swart, Amanda Oehlert, and others

Project Objectives:

  • To decipher the initiation, growth and drowning of the fringing reef during the last glacial maximum.

  • To assess the composition of the reef and the contribution of microbial crusts in stabilizing the reef.
  • To thoroughly analyze the diagenetic alteration in this reef that was never exposed to fresh water.
  • To produce a comprehensive petrophysical data set of the core material that includes porosity, acoustic velocity, and resistivity.


Self-Organization in Carbonate Depositional Systems


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Investigators: Haiwei Xi, Xiaoli Dong, Ved Chirayath, and Sam Purkis

Project Objectives:

  • To simulate reefal buildup morphogenesis using a spatially-explicit mathematical model based on partial differential equations (PDEs).

  • To track self-organized processes through time and distinguish among alternative mechanisms of reef morphogenesis.
  • To use modern shallow-water scleractinian reefs as a model biome for investigating biotic self-organization as a structuring force in carbonate depsitional systems.


Atlas of Carbonate Contourites


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Investigators: Sara Bashah and Gregor P. Eberli

Project Objectives:

  • Provide a database of global carbonate contourite depositional systems.

  • Analyze the geometry and dimensions of the various contourite depositional systems.



Testing Current Control on Slope Curvature


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Investigators: Sara Bashah and Gregor P. Eberli

Project Objectives:

  • Test the hypothesis that contour currents influence carbonate slope curvature.

  • Propose evolutionary trends of carbonate slope morphology with increasing and decreasing current strength.
  • Investigate the role of bottom currents on the distribution of carbonate slope facies.



Timing of the Distally Steepening on the West Florida Shelf


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Investigators: Gregor P. Eberli, Sara Bashah, Anna Ling, and Dierk Hebbeln

Project Objectives:

  • Evaluate when the distally steepened ramp morphology formed and if a time difference exists between the north and south.

  • Assess if the evolution of the distally steepened ramp of the West Florida shelf is related to the onset of the Loop Current.
  • Search if a fault exists that separates the northern from the southern portion of the shelf.




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