Heightened hurricane activity on the Little Bahama Bank from 1350 to 1650 AD Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Deciphering how the climate system has controlled North Atlantic tropical cyclone activity through the Holocene will require a larger observational network of prehistoric hurricane activity. Problematically, the tropical North Atlantic is dominated by carbonate landscapes that typically preserve poorer quality coastal sediment records in comparison to their temperate-region counterparts (e.g., sedimentation continuity and rate). Coastal karst basins (CKBs), such as sinkholes, blueholes, and underwater caves, are widely distributed on carbonate platforms and contain overlooked sedimentary records. Here we present a millennium of hurricane deposits on the Little Bahama Bank archived in a 165 cm core that was extracted from 69 m below sea level in a bluehole on Great Abaco Island, The Bahamas. The coarse-grained overwash deposits associated with both hurricanes Jeanne (2004) and Floyd (1999) were identified using radioisotopes (Cs-137, C-14, Pb-210) and indicate that the bluehole is sensitive to hurricane-induced sedimentation. Over the last millennium, the Little Bahama Bank experienced heightened hurricane activity from 1350 to 1650 AD. The simplest explanation for this active interval is that favorable climate conditions (El Nino, West African Monsoon, and sea surface temperatures) encouraged North Atlantic hurricane activity at that time. However, asynchronous hurricane activity at similar latitudes in the North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico suggest that regional oceanography has modulated or amplified regional hurricane activity over the last millennium. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • September 2014