Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Geology and Geophysics (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Gregor P. Eberli

Second Committee Member

Donald F. McNeill

Third Committee Member

Melissa K. Hicks


Sedimentary characteristics of grainy non-skeletal tidal flats along windward platform margins have not been described in modern environments and may be misidentified or misclassified in the rock record. This study describes the sedimentology of such an environment to aid in accurate identification and characterization in the ancient. At Shroud Cay, a grain-dominated tidal flat is sheltered from the high energy of the shelf by a ring of cemented Pleistocene and partly indurated Holocene eolianite islands separated by several narrow tidal passes. Depositional texture, environment of deposition and geobody mapping, extensive sediment sampling, and vibracoring have shown that, though the cemented island provide a barrier from the high energy of the shelf, a high degree of tidal energy still occurs behind this barrier as indicated by the overwhelmingly grainy nature of all of the tidal flat sub-environments. Intertidal flats comprise the majority of the tidal flat surface. These flats are characterized by patchy Scytonema mats overlying bioturbated peloid-ooid grainstones to packstones with cemented lithoclasts. Three main tidal channels dissect the tidal flat and allow diurnal flow, one of those tidal channels does not exit the tidal flat but dead-ends behind a cemented Holocene beach dune ridge along the eastern side of Shroud Cay. Peloid-ooid-skeletal grainstone tidal bars and peloid-ooid packstones fill much of the channels. Most of the channels are bordered by low-relief grain-rich packstone levees often capped by red mangroves and algal mats. The interior-most supratidal parts of the flat, often in the lee of the windward Holocene ridge, are covered by a thick (5-~25cm) Scytonema microbial mat underlain by grain-rich ooid-peloid packstones. Ancient grain-dominated carbonate tidal flats and eolianite deposits like Shroud Cay's are the reservoir rocks in some of today's largest hydrocarbon fields. We develop a model for the evolution of the grain-dominated tidal flat, document and compare differences between the grain-rich tidal flat and surrounding environments of deposition, and develop a set of criteria for recognition. These criteria can be used to more accurately characterize reservoirs such as the Jurassic Smackover fields, to avoid mis-classification of similar settings, and more effectively produce those reservoirs.


Bahamas; Exumas; Tidal Flat; Grain-dominated; Ooid; Ooids; Dune Ridge Complex; Carbonate Island; Smackover; Modern Analog; Vibracore; Boxcore; Tidal Delta; Skeletal Fragments; Shroud Cay; Hawksbill Cay; Peloids; Sandwaves; Scytonema; Microbial Mat