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Upper Pleistocene reef-associated carbonates of southeastern Barbados have been studied in outcrop and core. Reef terraces, formed during glacio-eustatic sea level highstands and subsequently uplifted, are characterized by thick and areally extensive sequences of allochthonous and autochthonous fore-reef calcarenites. Depositional textures are primarily packstones, and grainstones, wackestones, and coral floatstones are volumetrically less significant. Sediments are coarse- to fine-grained reef-derived allochems and micrite, and autochthonous benthic foraminifera and coralline red algae. Rates of sediment accumulation of fore-reef calcarenites range from about 1 to 4 m/1000 yr.
Although of relatively small scale, the carbonate terraces of southeastern Barbados provide excellent analogs for sequence stratigraphic concepts in carbonate settings. The terraces are primarily highstand systems tract deposits separated by type 1 unconformities. These highstand deposits are characterized by reef development and the progradation of fore-reef calcarenites. Extensive fore-reef deposits resulted from mechanical erosion of the reef framework on this high-energy, windward coastline. Type 1 unconformities are characterized by thin caliche layers developed during lowstand subaerial exposure. Thin basal transgressive systems tract deposits are characterized by incorporation of extraformational clasts derived from the underlying sequence during sea level rise. Slope-front ero ion, vertical shift in the position of freshwater lens, and shift in the position of coastal onlap are all consequences of the interplay between eustasy and tectonics. These effects and the development of facies geometries on Barbados are primarily controlled by the glacio-eustatic component, inasmuch as rates of eustatic changes of sea level are at least two orders of magnitude greater than the maximum average rates of tectonic uplift.
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