Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the U.S. Navy, the State University of New York at Albany, Wesleyan University, Nine dives in the research submersible ?Alvin? were made into Great Abaco Submarine Canyon to depths ranging from 1850 to 3666 m. Our observations indicate that the walls of this canyon are distinctly terraced, consisting of nearly vertical to overhanging rock cliffs and intervening, less steep sediment-covered slopes. The wall rock consists mostly of massive, shallow-water limestones and dolostones of Cretaceous age, coated on exposed surfaces with manganese oxides. These rocks are heavily jointed/fractured and thus very blocky to angular in appearance, with sponges and other sessile organisms commonly attached. Talus slopes and sedimentary breccia deposits containing angular boulders are present at the base of these steep escarpments. Short-term bottom current measurements in the axis of the eastern part of the canyon indicate that currents are relatively weak, reaching velocities of only 10 cm/sec. This relatively placid setting is further corroborated by the abundance of turtle grass (Thalassia) found along the canyon axis. However, abundant subdued, symmetrical ripple marks and large scour depressions at the base of boulders, indicate that high-energy events sporadically impact the canyon axis. Contemporary erosional activity along the axis of the western (headward) part of the canyon appears to be more significant, as evidenced by asymmetrical ripple marks, sand waves and bioerosion. Great Abaco Canyon has evolved with time via a variety of processes, including: (1) faulting: (2) subsidence; (3) defacement; and (4) erosional down-cutting. The location, orientation and initiation of this canyon appear to be structurally controlled by the Great Abaco Fracture Zone during pre-Santonian time. Regional subsidence during the Mesozoic allowed the walls of Great Abaco Canyon to build vertically by accretion of shallow-water limestones, whereas joint-controlled defacement has widened the canyon while maintaining steep walls. Erosional down-cutting in the canyon axis by carbonate sediment gravity flows also appears to have been important episodically, particularly during the Miocene and Pleistocene.
text/tab-separated-values, 25 data points