Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 July 2015
The utility of benthic foraminifera in bathymetric interpretation of clastic depositional environments is well established. In contrast, bathymetric distribution of benthic foraminifera in deep-water carbonate environments has been largely neglected. Approximately 260 species and morphotypes of benthic foraminifera were identified from 12 piston core tops and grab samples collected along two traverses 25 km apart across the northern windward margin of Little Bahama Bank at depths of 275-1,135 m. Certain species and operational taxonomic groups of benthic foraminifera correspond to major near-surface sedimentary facies of the windward margin of Little Bahama Bank and serve as reliable depth indicators. Globocassidulina subglobosa, Cibicides rugosus, and Cibicides wuellerstorfi are all reliable depth indicators, being most abundant at depths >1,000 m, and are found in lower slope periplatform aprons, which are primarily comprised of sediment gravity flows. Reef-dwelling peneroplids and soritids (suborder Miliolina) and rotaliines (suborder Rotaliina) are most abundant at depths <300 m, reflecting downslope bottom transport in proximity to bank-margin reefs. Small miliolines, rosalinids, and discorbids are abundant in periplatform ooze at depths <300 m and are winnowed from the carbonate platform. Increased variation in assemblage diversity below 900 m reflects mixing of shallow- and deep-water species by sediment gravity flows.