The sedimentology of a Recent carbonate mound is investigated to further our understanding of mound building communities, surface and subsurface mound sediments, and the overall sediment budget of mounds. Nine sedimentary facies of the surface of Tavernier mound, Florida Keys are described. These sediments are composed of Neogoniolithon, Halimeda, Porites, mollusc and foraminiferal grains, and lime mud. Muds rich in aragonite and high magnesian calcite show little mineralogical variation over the mound surface. Geochemical evidence suggests that the mud is mainly formed from breakdown of codiacean algae and Thalassia blade epibionts. Production rates of the facies are established from in situ growth rate experiments and standing-crop surveys. Annual calcium carbonate production is c. 500gm-2, intermediate between reef and other bay and lagoonal environment production rates in the Caribbean. The internal structure of the mound, studied from piston cores and sediment probes, indicates that seven facies can be identified. Five of these can be related to the present-day facies, and occur in the upper part of the mound (gravel-mound stage). The remaining two facies, characterized by molluscs and aragonite-rich muds, occur in the lower part of the mound (mud-mound stage), and are most similar to facies from typical Florida Bay mud mounds. Mangrove peats within the mound indicate former intertidal areas and C14 dates from these peats provide a time framework for mound sedimentation. The mound appears to have formed because of an initial valley in the Pleistocene surface which accumulated mud in a shallow embayment during the Holocene transgression.

A sediment budget for the mound is presented which compares production rates from present-day facies with subsurface sediment masses. During the mud mound stage production rates were similar to accumulation rates and the mound was similar to the present-day mounds of Florida Bay. During the gravel mound stage (3400 yr BP-present day), conditions were more normal marine and the establishment of Porites and Neogoniolithon on the mound increased production rates 10% over accumulation rates. This excess sediment is thought to be transported off the mound to the surrounding seabed. Models are proposed which divide carbonate mounds on the basis of internal versus external sediment supply. Comparisons are made with other Recent and ancient mounds. Similarities exist between the roles of the biotic components of late Palaeozoic mounds but major differences are found when structures and early diagenesis are compared.