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Whole-Rock Aminostratigraphy and Quaternary Sea-Level History of the Bahamas

  • Paul J. Hearty (a1) and Darrell S. Kaufman (a2)

The surficial geology of the tectonically stable Bahamian archipelago preserves one of the most complete records of middle to late Quaternary sea-level-highstand cycles in the world. However, with the exception of deposits from marine isotope substage (MIS) 5e, fossil corals for radiometric dating of this rich stratigraphic sequence are rare. This study utilizes the previously published, independent lithostratigraphic framework as a testing ground for amino acid racemization in whole-rock limestone samples. At least six limestone–soil couplets provide a relative age sequence of events that encompass as many interglacial–glacial cycles. D-Alloisoleucine/L-isoleucine data fall into six clusters, or “aminozones.” On the basis of independent dating and the inferred correlation with global MIS, the ages of several aminozones are known, while the ages of others are calculated from calibrated amino acid geochronology. This study demonstrates the utility of the whole-rock aminostratigraphy method for dating and correlating widespread emergent marine deposits, constitutes the first regional geochronological framework for the Bahamas, and highlights major sea-level events over the past half million years.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
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