Paper No. 21
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM
APPROACH TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF A COMPREHENSIVE CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM FOR MAPPING SEAFLOOR ENVIRONMENTS OF GREAT ABACO ISLAND, BAHAMAS
The Bahamian Archipelago, located less than one hundred kilometers off the East coast of the United States, spans an area of 300,000 km2 and exists as a series of carbonate islands and shallow banks comprised of a multitude of diverse sub-tropical seafloor environments. Regional climate variations divide the Bahamian Archipelago into two different geographic regions with the southern islands experiencing warmer annual temperatures and higher rainfall than the northern islands. The development of a comprehensive seafloor classification system for the entire Bahamian Archipelago would require an examination of at least one island from each region. The portion of southern Great Abaco Island in the northern region was the first area chosen to develop approaches for this classification due to its location along the eastern margin of the Little Bahama Bank and exposure to open energy conditions of the Atlantic Ocean. It is important to note that in this study, the term seafloor has been extended to encompass only shallow-marine and coastal environments. High-resolution satellite imagery and aerial photography have been analyzed to identify, delineate and map the geomorphological features and morphodynamic zones of the various seafloor environments of southern Great Abaco Island. A final map of the area revealed a unique succession of seafloor environments based upon variability to energy exposure. The area of southern Great Abaco Island could not be classified under any previously existing seafloor classification system. Required instead, was the development of a new classification system applicable to the area from the adoption of terms from multiple recognized classification systems. The final results of the study yielded both small and large-scale maps delineating the seafloor environments for the area. This classification system could be utilized in the establishment of effective coastal conservation and resource management plans for other islands in the northern region of the Bahamian Archipelago.