Evolution of a Holocene Reef-Lagoon System: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
The sediment package reaches 1.5- >3.5m thickness over the antecedent Pleistocene topography ranging 3-10 meters below present sea level. Based on Caribbean sea-level history, this lagoon initially flooded between 8,000 and 7,000ybp. The base of all cores intersecting the Pleistocene surface had a coarse lag of shell, Halimeda, and/or terrigenous pebbles. Bulk molluscan radiocarbon dates from three shelly lags are ~3,200ypb, which suggests an average accumulation over the lagoon's 7000-year history. Above the lag, shell content and grain size decline until half-way up the core where it changes to fine, featureless sand with few shells. Molluscs within the cores are generally small, thin-shelled, shallow infaunal bivalves and gastropods and nearly all shells are in good taphonomic condition. In contrast, the present day surface assemblages in most locations reflect the presence of seagrass (epifaunal bivalves and grazing gastropods with greater taphonomic damage). The results suggest changing energy during lagoon flooding and a long interval of Callianassid shrimp activity that mixed and sequestered infaunal shells. This was followed by stabilization of the lagoon and a change to present conditions.